The Self- and Directed Assembly of Nanowires

Open Access
Smith, Benjamin David
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
January 29, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Christine Dolan Keating, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Dr Mary Beth Williams, Committee Member
  • Thomas E Mallouk, Committee Member
  • Kristen Ann Fichthorn, Committee Member
  • Nanowires
  • Nanotubes
  • Gold
  • Silica
  • Self-Assembly
  • Sedimentation
  • van der Waals
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Density
  • Electrostatics
  • Particle
This thesis explores the self- and directed assembly of nanowires. Specifically, we examine the driving forces behind nanowire self-assembly and the macro-structures that are formed. Particle-dense, oriented nanowire structures show promise in the fields of photonics, energy, and electronics. Arrays of spherical particles have already found uses in electronic inks, sensing arrays, and many other commercial applications; but, it is a challenge to create specific arrays of morphologically and/or compositionally anisotropic particles. The following chapters illuminate the interactions that drive the assembly of anisotropic particles in high density solutions in the absence of applied fields or solution drying. Special emphasis is placed on the structures that are formed. The properties of micro- and nanoparticles and their assembly are introduced in Chapter 1. We began our studies by examining the assembly of single component nanowires. Chapter 2 describes this work, in which solid Au nanowires measuring 2-7 µm in length and 290 nm in diameter self-assembled into smectic rows. To increase the particle and array complexity, two-component, metallic nanowire assembly was explored in Chapter 3. n an attempt to obtain better ordering within rows, silica coated nanowires with partial Au cores were made. The synthesis involved silica-coating the nanowires and selectively etching a Ag segment. These particles have extremely different VDWs attractions between their segments, as the Au cores are much more attractive than the solvent-filled etched ends. The assembly of these partially etched nanowires (PENs) is detailed in Chapters 4, 5, and 6. The semi-automated counting of PENs in images by software is used heavily in Chapters 4 and 5. Appendix A describes the use, development, and validation of macros within Image-Pro. Chapter 7 examines the overall conclusions and future directions for this research. By combining our assembly techniques with known directing forces (e.g., electric or magnetic fields) more specific alignment and/or positioning could be achieved. We have also begun to explore directing assembly through lithographic microwells. Further work needs to explore the integration of arrays into devices and the use of functional materials. Then, high density, oriented arrays could be created for photonic, energy, sensing, catalytic, and electronic applications.