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Silicon-28 nanowires article


Active member
Interesting but of questionable cost-effectiveness (how do you separate isotopes? Silane gas in centrifuge?)



Using Ager’s silicon isotope materials, the Wu team tested the thermal conductivity in bulk 1-millimeter-size silicon-28 crystals versus natural silicon – and again, their experiment confirmed what Ager and his collaborators discovered years ago – that bulk silicon-28 conducts heat only 10% better than natural silicon.

Now for the nano test. Using a technique called electroless etching, Ci made natural silicon and silicon-28 nanowires just 90 nanometers (billionths of a meter) in diameter – about a thousand times thinner than a single strand of human hair.

To measure the thermal conductivity, Ci suspended each nanowire between two microheater pads outfitted with platinum electrodes and thermometers, and then applied an electrical current to the electrode to generate heat on one pad that flows to the other pad via the nanowire.

“We expected to see only an incremental benefit – something like 20% – of using isotopically pure material for nanowire heat conduction,” Wu said.

But Ci’s measurements astonished them all. The Si-28 nanowires conducted heat not 10% or even 20%, but 150% better than natural silicon nanowires with the same diameter and surface roughness.

This defied everything that they had expected to see, Wu said. A nanowire’s rough surface typically slows phonons down. So what was going on?