Tuesday, December 13, 2011

US Patent 8075863 - Growing nanowires in a microfluidic environment


Typically nanowires and nanotubes are grown in reaction chambers having sizes ranging from centimeters to meters in which localized control of growth conditions is difficult. This patent from M.I.T. teaches a method of growing nanostructures in a microfluidic environment to provide localized control of growth conditions. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of growing an elongated nanostructure, comprising:

causing a nanoparticle catalyst to float in a microfluidic channel by applying a magnetic or an electromagnetic field;

flowing a fluid in a first direction in the microfluidic channel;

initiating growth of an elongated nanostructure from the nanoparticle catalyst while the catalyst is floating in the microfluidic channel; and

continuing growth of the elongated nanostructure substantially in the first direction in the microfluidic channel.