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Nanotechnology in Grove City: Part Three

Nanostructures- Micrometers-wide Bridges

Dr. Wolinski of the Grove City College Physics Department leads a study on the development and uses of Gallium Oxide nanowires. Six young men of the department work week after week tuning machines and making discoveries on the possibility of building bridges micrometers wide. Part three concludes the process (as of current) with Kaleb Slaatthaug and Michael Thompson. Kaleb shows the camera how to bake gallium oxide wires onto a gold wafer base. Michael takes it beyond the present scope of the project, and ideas for potential uses of these wires and structures in the future.

Kaleb Slaatthaug

Yes, Slaatthaug. Imagine it asĀ Sloat-howg. His name is Norwegian. He runs a device called a Tube Furnace for the team. The furnace is a device used for the stimulation of gallium oxide nanostructure growth. Kaleb will spend several days setting up a run of the furnace, pumping in the proper gases, getting it to the right temperature, sealing in the samples, then letting it run. He begins by inserting one of Zach’s sample wafers into the furnace, alongside a boat of gallium oxide. By the time the furnace is finished, strings of gallium oxide microstructures coat the face of Kaleb’s sample, attaching to little golden “Oreo Bumps” etched by the SEM. The gold provides the perfect base for gallium to grow on, and now the team has a plethora of structures to explore with the SEM.

Michael Thompson

But where to go from here? Michael Thompson has been with the project for years now, and knows a few things about the broader scope. The initial goal of the project was to build a bridge at microscale. With plenty of structures to work with, the project aimed to build a bridge out of nanowire. This goal has been significantly pushed back, but remains in sight. Michael’s job is to make building a bridge into a possibility again. He works with a device called a Nanopositioner, essentially a laser with several mirrors. It can show him the difference between wavelengths of light, and use that information to tell the thickness of a substance. This should allow for Michael to determine the thickness of a given wire and thus its usefulness for their project. First, however, he has to spend his time programming and calibrating his nanopositioner to get him results.

Have you enjoyed this series on the Nanostructure Study? If so, there are so many more studies and blogs to read about on Insider! Make sure to check them out, along with the video below for more details on Dr. Wolinski’s group.

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