News release from Industrial Research Limited
6 December 2006
Joint research project leads to high profile double
A team of New Zealand researchers has achieved a rare double with new research results being published in two top
international physics journals in the same month.
The results stem from a joint project looking at nanoclusters and their use in tiny electronic devices, and is part of
work being undertaken by researchers at Industrial Research, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Canterbury
and Christchurch-based Nano Cluster Devices Ltd.
The team’s papers were published in November in the world’s two most prestigious physics journals, Physical Review
Letters and Applied Physics Letters, and contained new findings from the collaborative work.
The paper in Physical Review Letters described a fundamental understanding of the way tiny particles, often called
nanoclusters, behave when they are fired at a solid surface. The Applied Physics Letters article showed how this
understanding can be exploited to fabricate electronic devices comprising wires which are 1000 times thinner than a
“This is a high profile double. It’s very rare to get papers appearing in both of the world’s top physics journals so
close together,” according to Dr Shaun Hendy of Industrial Research.
The team of researchers conducted computer simulations of more than 30,000 individual nanocluster collisions to find out
what happens to bouncing particles which are nanoscale in size.
The simulations showed that nanoclusters, although they are much stickier than their macroscopic counterparts, can still
bounce off surfaces if the conditions are right. In fact, if the velocity of the nanoparticles is tuned correctly, the
researchers found that the nanoparticles will bounce off parts of a surface that are flat, yet stick to parts of a
surface that have been pre-patterned.
Nanoscale electronic devices can then be assembled by pre-patterning surfaces and depositing nanoparticles at the right
velocity. Interestingly, the computer simulations showed that this bounce-stick behaviour can occur at both low
velocities, resulting in elastic collisions, and at high velocities, leading to very inelastic collisions.
“The publication of our results in these international journals illustrates the high quality of the science behind our
nanotechnology development programme,” said Dr Simon Brown of Nano Cluster Devices Ltd.
“Our new understanding of the cluster bouncing process has allowed us to develop new tools for assembly of
Patent applications are been filed covering the findings.
The collaborative research project is funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. The team of
researchers are all part of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, a Centre of Research
Excellence. The team acknowledged the importance of the funding and the MacDiarmid Institute in providing the
infrastructure for their work.