Nanowires are near one- dimensional structures that typically have a length-to-width ratio of a thousand or more. Because of their small diameters (on the order of a few nanometers), nanowires can exhibit unusual quantum effects that differ from the properties of the same materials in bulk. Nanowires are made from a number of materials, including silicon, metals, dielectrics and a variety of composite materials. Nanowires are commonly grown by a vapor-liquid-solid mechanism using chemical vapor deposition and by molecular beam epitaxy techniques.
Nanowires are being synthesized and studied by a number of multidisciplinary groups at Penn State for use in nanowire based devices for microelectronics, chemical and biological sensors, energy scavenging, and solar energy conversion.