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Reconfigurable Positioning of Vertically-Oriented Nanowires Around Topographical Features in an AC Electric Field

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posted on 15.09.2017, 00:00 by Sarah J. Boehm, Lan Lin, Nermina Brljak, Nicole R. Famularo, Theresa S. Mayer, Christine D. Keating
We report the effect of topographical features on gold nanowire assemblies in a vertically applied AC electric field. Nanowires 300 nm in diameter ×2.5 μm long, and coated with ∼30 nm silica shell, were assembled in aqueous solution between top and bottom electrodes, where the bottom electrode was patterned with cylindrical dielectric posts. Assemblies were monitored in real time using optical microscopy. Dielectrophoretic and electrohydrodynamic forces were manipulated through frequency and voltage variation, organizing nanowires parallel to the field lines, i.e., standing perpendicular to the substrate surface. Field gradients around the posts were simulated and assembly behavior was experimentally evaluated as a function of patterned feature diameter and spacing. The electric field gradient was highest around these topographic features, which resulted in accumulation of vertically oriented nanowires around the post perimeters when dielectrophoresis dominated (high AC frequency) or between the posts when electrohydrodynamics dominated (low AC frequency). This general type of reconfigurable assembly, coupled with judicious choice of nanowire and post materials/dimensions, could ultimately enable new types of optical materials capable of switching between two functional states by changing the applied field conditions.

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