In a new video, a team of researchers from the University of Michigan shows how aluminum can help magnetize atoms to a different kind of state, one that is not the usual state of the atoms, as they would be in normal, solid metals.
The scientists also found that it is possible to build small aluminum nanowires that can be used as antennas, or as a magnetic field.
“These nanowire antennas are the first of their kind, and we’re hoping that by showing that they can do this, we can demonstrate that we can create antennas with very high-energy and long-range applications,” said Matthew Pappas, a professor of physics at the university.
“This is a big breakthrough, and it’s going to be an important step forward in the field of nanotechnology.”
The scientists used two types of aluminum, one in a metal oxide form, and the other in a form that is a semiconductor.
They were able to demonstrate that the two types behave as a single unit, with one of the two being a semiconducting metal, and a second being a metallic one.
They used the new material in a magnetic dipole, a method for creating an electric field that would generate a magnetic interaction between the metal oxide and the metal semiconductor, which is known as an electron.
The metal oxide can be found in some products of semiconductor manufacturing, such as the transistor and memory chips.
“We’ve known for a while that aluminum has some properties that make it ideal for this kind of operation, and this is a really exciting new finding,” Pappa said.
“What we’re trying to do here is make it even more important.”
For example, the researchers found that the aluminum nanotubes have extremely high energy, which allows them to create a magnetic coupling that is stronger than the electrostatic coupling that exists between a silicon chip and the silicon electrode.
The two types have similar properties when the two materials are separated by a thin layer of metal oxide.
The researchers also found a way to build these nanowired antennas in silicon.
Using a process known as metallization, the scientists were able just to peel off the outer layer of the aluminum layer and stick the metal into the center of the nanotube, and use that to build the antenna.
“The combination of these properties of the metal nanowiring and the semiconductor gives us an ideal material for antennas, and that’s something that we haven’t had to do before,” Pupas said.
“It also shows that the properties of aluminum can be controlled and manipulated, and so we can design these antennas with really high-speed control,” he added.
In addition to the new discovery, the research team also recently published a paper describing how the aluminum nanoparticles can be made to perform many of the same tasks as silicon semiconductor nanowirts.
The research was published this week in Physical Review Letters.