Office for Technology Commercialization

Nanowire Alignment and Transfer

Technology #20140258

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Nanowire Alignment ProcessUnidirectional Nanowires
Rusen Yang, PhD
Professor, Mechanical Engineering , College of Science and Engineering
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Managed By
Kevin Nickels
Technology Licensing Officer 612-625-7289

Nanowire Mechanical Shear Alignment

A method to align nanowires uses rotational shear forces and can eliminate high-investment equipment and while introducing a flexible design for scalability. The mechanical shear alignment process allows for any type of unidirectional nanowire or nanotube to be aligned.

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Alignment of Nanowires in a Spinning Langmuir Film

By combining a nanowire solution of any strength with an anti-clumping surfactant mixture and layering this on top of a liquid reservoir creating a Langmuir film, a central stirring rod causes the circular surface to spin. The outer reservoir wall does not move, introducing a surface shear force, aligning the nanowires on top of the reservoir. A flat hydrophobic silicon substrate lying parallel to the surface is removed from the reservoir and captures a portion of the aligned nanowire surface solution. Heating the substrate removes the surfactant.

This simple, scalable operation allows room for industrial specifications. For instance, the reservoir can be shaped as an inverted cone to allow for a pre-treatment increase in nanowire concentration (in situations involving low concentration solutions) by letting out liquid from the bottom of the reservoir (see figure 2). In addition, this method works for all nanowires and does not require them to have certain electric or magnetic properties.

Nanowire and Carbon Nanotubes

Nanowires and nanotubes are essential to many functions in modern technology. Piezoelectric nanowires are a critical component to energy, and carbon nanotubes are used to strengthen countless materials. However, common to nearly all nanowire applications is the challenge of effectively aligning these frequently unidirectional string-like particles.

Many current techniques include “squeezing” nanowire solutions between two walls to create organization. Others cause reservoirs of concentrated nanowire solution to form nanowire matrices on reservoir walls by introducing bubbles to the system. Still other techniques involve electric and magnetic fields. However, these methods fall short in their inability to handle low concentration nanowire solutions, are limited to low-volume batches and ferrous materials, and require complex, expensive equipment.


  • Allows for alignment of nanowires or nanotubes
  • Eliminates need for complex equipment

Phase of Development Proof of Concept