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Nanotubes can solder themselves, markedly improving device performance

University of Illinois researchers have developed a way to heal gaps in wires too small for even the world’s tiniest soldering iron. Carbon nanotubes are like tiny hollow wires of carbon just 1 atom thick – similar to graphene but cylindrical. Researchers have been exploring using them as transistors instead of traditional silicon, because carbon nanotubes are easier to transport onto alternate substrates, such as thin sheets of plastic, for low-cost flexible electronics or flat-panel displays. The nano-soldering takes only seconds and improves the device performance by an order of magnitude – almost to the level of devices made from single nanotubes, but much easier to manufacture on a large scale.

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