"CHIPS: At nanoscale, silicon may lose its 'edge' over time"
Diamonds are forever, aren't they? Not according to a new interpretation of the crystalline structure of silicon wafers from researchers at Ohio State University. Until now, scientists believed that crystalline facets met each other at atomically sharp edges. But new research at OSU suggests that the crystalline facets on the surface of silicon, gallium arsenide, glass and even diamond are all continually changing phases in a process of rounding off their edges by the force of thermal equilibrium. To be sure, the process affects macroscopic characteristics only very slowly: It takes centuries for the sharp edges of diamond facets to visibly round, for example. But at the nanoscale the force acts instantly, determining the precise shapes of atomic-scale structures. By harnessing this force at the nanoscale, Ohio State University researchers hope to make it possible to prepattern nanowires and quantum dots onto future silicon wafers.
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