Number 653 #1, September 12, 2003 by Phil Schewe, James Riordon, and Ben Stein
Joining two or more nanochips, such as nano-electromechanical systems
(NEMS), can be done by welding or gluing or with tiny nuts and bolts.
But what if you could gently just fasten them the way fabrics are fastened,
with velcro? Conventional velcro fastening works by pairing one patch
of mm-scale hooked protuberances with a patch of looped protuberances.
In the microscopic version, both patches would bristle with carbon nanotubes,
grown upright except for a hook on the top end. David
Tomanek and his colleagues at Michigan State (517-355-9702) are
studying how to make nano-velcro work (see
movies). His calculations so far show that the nanotubes will remain
in place on each separate substrate (they can be grown on selective
pieces of surface geometry using lithographic-like patterning techniques)
and will also remain locked together when mated with its counterpart
on another substrate. A typical application for nano-velcro would be
to fasten a diamond coating onto specific parts of a metal surface.
(Berber et al., Physical Review
Letters, upcoming article; co-authors, Savas
Berber, and Young-Kyun Kwon)