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7/21/12

Nonconductors conduct current at nanoscale

Nonconductors
Conductors effectively transmit electricity, and insulators or dielectrics do not, unless they are subjected to extremely high voltage leading to dielectric breakdown due to extreme heating and damage.
Nano level phenomenon
Researchers at University of Michigan have discovered that at the nano scale nonconductors can allow electric current to pass non destructively through a sliver of glass, which is not usually a conductor. At nano scale dielectric is made exceedingly thin to achieve the breakdown with modest voltages that even batteries can supply as heat is dissipated extraordinarily quickly. Researchers call these conducting nano scale dielectric slivers as liquid glass electrodes. These electrodes are fabricated with a femto second laser that emits light pulses only quadrillionths of a second long.
Integral glass electrodes
These devices need a power source to operate, and mostly rely on wires to route the power, but it is often difficult to insert wires into the tiny machines. Also the design of micro fluidic devices is constrained because of the power problem, But this can be solved by machining electrodes right into the device to help producing power. This is done by etching channels to contain ionic fluid through which electricity can be transmitted. Electricity in the ionic channels can zip through the thin glass dead-end without harming the device in the process.
Applications
Such a nano scale phenomenon could lead to building faster, less expensive portable diagnostic devices, micro-mechanical and “lab on a chip” devices which can be used for instant tests of illnesses, food contaminants, and toxic gases. They can be made into glass electrodes which are ideal for use in lab-on-a-chip devices that integrate multiple laboratory functions onto one chip just millimeters or centimeters in size. The reversible dielectric breakdown principle can be used in integrated circuits to work for various electronics applications.


1 Responses to “Nonconductors conduct current at nanoscale”

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