University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineers are using Shrinky Dinks, a plastic that shrinks when heated, to pack nanowires tightly together for use in high-performance electronics. Researchers have had difficulty combining a large number of nanowires together that line up in the same direction and are only one layer thick.
When the nanowires are placed on the Shrinky Dinks plastic and then heated, the wires are brought closer together as the plastic shrinks. This method has allowed the engineers to create a very dense array of nanowires required for certain applications. The shrinking has also shown that when nanowires are more than 30 degrees askew from other nanowires on the same plastic, the shrinking brings them into perfect alignment. The researchers are continuing testing how clamping could impact the direction of the arrays and if they are able to control how densely packed the wires need to be depending on the time the plastic is heated.