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The demand for compact, multifunctional devices has been growing at an immense rate, puttingpressure on manufacturers to fit more powerful electronic circuits into ever smaller packages.
However, while Moore‟s Law has so far been a reliable measure of this progress, we are
rapidlyapproaching the limits of current manufacturing methods.Solutions involving nanotechnology
specifically, nanotubes and nanowires
is an area of enormousinterest as the boundaries of manufacturing are pushed even further. As the name suggests,nanowires are wires with dimensions of the order of nanometres. Although much research hasalready been conducted on carbon-based nanotubes (CNTs) and nanowires (CNWs), recently thedirection of study has shifted towards investigation of silicon nanowires (SiNWs). SiNWs present aunique opportunity to fabricate basic electronic components such as Field Effect Transistors (FETs)with nanoscale dimensions. The implications of this research are significant: future processing unitscould potentially have several hundred times the current transistor density, while micro- and nano-scale devices could be fabricated with ease. Over the past three decades, advanced experiments withprogrammable logic circuits and bio-sensors made from nanoscaled FETs have already been carriedout. Devices such as bio-sensors for applications in DNA, virus, and bacterial detection have beenmade successfully and are being tested extensively.The use of SiNWs is not restricted to nanometre-scale electronics. Larger devices, such as thosedesigned for energy harvesting and storage, may also benefit from the technology. The latest SiNW-based solar cells are considerably more cost effective than solar cells built solely with conventionalmethods. Lithium ion cells, used widely in electronics as a result of their high capacity, may have theirstorage capacity at least tenfold
SiNWs have an extremely large charge capacity at lengths of up to just a few hundred nanometres. This paves the way for batteries that last longer, need less frequentcharging and yet are even smaller than existing units.It is important to note that the method of manufacture significantly affects the electrical characteristicsof the nanowires. The most common method used at present is Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD);slight variations of this technique include Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapour Deposition (PECVD),which is also widely used. Processes that use CVD generally use the Vapour-Liquid-Solid (VLS)technique for fabrication. Other methods, such as Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) lithography areused in manufacturing. SiNWs do not have to be made from pure silicon. Doped silicon can also beused.This report describes the various manufacturing processes of SiNWs and their applications,discussing five nanowire devices in detail: FETs, programmable logic circuits, bio-sensors, lithium ionbatteries and solar cells.