Drawing the Future of Tiny Technologies
The 21st century has seen a steadily increasing demand for miniaturization in optics and electronics. Smaller, more powerful devices are needed to meet endless consumer hunger for increased computer memory, more advanced cell phone and audio devices, and higher-resolution digital cameras. Yet this trend isn’t sustainable unless we develop new components with characteristics beyond those used today.
Enter nano-devices—objects one hundred thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair, but still able, for instance, to collect light or operate a digital camera. These high-tech devices have been demonstrated to work, but can’t be used in mass production thanks to their high cost and problems performing on designated positions of an electronic chip or platform.
Dr. Giovanni Fanchini, Canada Research Chair in Carbon-based Nanomaterials and Nano-optoelectronics, will solve these problems. He is exploring new, cheap and more user-friendly ways to create, manipulate and test electronic and optical nano-devices. Fanchini’s devices are assembled from plastics and other low-cost organic materials, using techniques that involve dissolving the materials in droplets of various liquids, from which the nano-devices are “traced,” like pictures drawn from ink on the tip of a pen.
Fanchini’s laboratory is a nano-optoelectronics shop fully equipped to develop prototype nano-devices that could dramatically improve, and even completely transform, electronic devices we use every day, such as our mobile phones and our personal computers.