Molecular Simulations Guide Nanowire Research
Simulation plays a critical role in design — even in very, very, very, small structures. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are performing simulations at microscopic levels (with help from CEI’s EnSight software) in order to predict the performance of nanowires.
Nanowires are tiny wires composed of precious metals or semiconductors that could aid in the development of next-generation electronic devices. Researcher Jonathan Zimmerman and others at Sandia have been performing simulations to help improve fabrication of these wires.
Nanowire performance is affected by deformities in the wires. Zimmerman performs simulations to predict those deformities, when the wires will fail and by which physical mechanisms, and how nanowire geometry influences the failure process.
That’s where EnSight comes in. Sandia uses specialized code to perform those simulations, and utilizes EnSight to visualize and analyze the results. Zimmerman is able to demonstrate the properties of the nanowires using EnSight, and provide 3D renderings of the results. He also performs atomistic simulation, modeling defects at the microscopic level to verify characteristics of the nanowires and predict how tension and compression levels can affect them at the molecular level.
“By being able to demonstrate the failure processes of the deformation of nanowires, we can better understand how and when to properly manipulate them for more efficient usage in a variety of technologies.” — Jonathan Zimmerman, Sandia National Laboratories
Nanowires could be used to link very small electronic components. Researcher at Stanford have used them to improve Lithium-Ion batteries, and Sandia created the world’s smallest single nanowire battery two years ago.
You can see a movie demonstrating some of the work the team is doing with EnSight here.