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Nano Bucky!

August 29, 2005
Terry Devitt, 608-262-8282 trdevitt@wisc.edu

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A team of chemistry researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has put a new twist on an old philosophical riddle: How many Bucky Badger mascots can you fit on the head of a pin?

The answer: 9,000, with a little help from nanotechnology. To view the diminutive mascot, click on the thumbnail in the left margin of this page.

NanoBucky, created in the research lab of UW-Madison chemistry professor Robert J. Hamers, is composed of tiny carbon nanofiber "hairs," each just 75 nanometers in diameter. (A nanometer is equivalent to 1 billionth of a meter.) NanoBucky provides an entertaining illustration of the astounding scale under which nanotechnology pioneers ply their trade.

The nanofibers, one of several nanostructured forms of carbon developed in the last several years, have numerous potential applications and could play a role in the development of such things as tiny sensors for detecting chemical and biological agents. They may also have use in energy storage applications such as capacitors and lithium-ion batteries.

The fibers, and NanoBucky, are "grown" in a plasma deposition chamber where a mix of acetylene and ammonia gas are used with electrical current to prompt the growth of the nanofibers on a silicon substrate patterned with a nickel catalyst. The pattern for the catalyst is composed on a computer and is then traced on the substrate by a beam of electrons.

For more information, contact -
Robert J. Hamers, 608-262-6371 hamers@chem.wisc.edu

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