Folding nano-materials into three-dimensional shapes, a la origami, could help lead to radically improved computer memory, motors and capacitors, according to a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Current nano-fabrication techniques are already being used to create microprocessors and other devices, but they are limited to two-dimensional structures only.
“A lot of what’s done now is planar,” says Tony Nichol, a mechanical engineering graduate student at MIT. “We want to take all of the nice tools that have been developed for 2-D and do 3-D things.”
The team has already created a one-fold nano-capacitor; adding more folds will enable future versions to store more energy.
The researchers have developed three ways to “bend” nanomaterials into three dimensions: depositing metal to cause material to curl, using a helium ion beam to create folds and running an electrical current through gold wires embedded in the nanomaterial to generate a “self-assembling” Lorentz force.