Michael Thompson


Research has given Michael Thompson an understanding of the life of a research chemist, and helped him decide to work toward becoming one. He first became involved in research, under the guidance of Professor Penner, during winter 2004. Michael has been working on developing a unique method for synthesizing nanowires out of antimony. He had the opportunity to present his research to several European collaborators in Corfu, Greece. Michael’s advice to new researchers is to “work hard and get results,” adding that there is no better feeling than seeing so much hard work leading to exciting and important results. triangle.gif (504 bytes)




There is increasing interest in materials with dimensions smaller than 100 nm across disciplines ranging from electrical engineering to molecular biology. Materials in this size regime display interesting size-dependent properties that have already found applications in electronics and chemical and optical sensors. There are several different classes of these nanomaterials. Nanowires are a special type of nanomaterial that have an almost one-dimensional structure. A nanowire can be defined as a wire, made of any material, with a diameter below 100 nm. This paper introduces a new method for the synthesis of antimony nanowires that involves electrodeposition of antimony onto the step edges of highly oriented pyrolytic graphite and the subsequent “stripping” using kinetically-controlled electrooxidation to create longer and thinner antimony nanowires. This technique is important because it creates antimony nanowires with widths as small as 33 ± 7 nm and lengths of over 100 mm, which allows for easy integration into devices. Also, the kinetically controlled electrooxidation technique is the only method, to our knowledge, that can shrink the size of any nanostructure without roughening the surface. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                

Reginald M. Penner

School of Physical Sciences

Antimony is one of three metals of special interest to physicists (arsenic and bismuth are the other two). In these metals, conduction electrons travel long distances without scattering, and this has practical applications for the use of these metals in devices like magnetic sensors. Michael has developed methods for preparing nanowires of antimony and for reducing the diameter of these nanowires into the 50 nm regime. We are working with physicists in Finland to study electron transport in these diminutive conductors. Michael’s nanowire etching method is especially exciting because it is applicable to nanowires of many different metals, prepared by a wide variety of technologies. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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