Cracking study makes nanotech breakthrough

The Korea Herald/Asia News Network Thursday, May 10, 2012

Korean scientists have developed technology that can control the way a solid material cracks for the first time in a breakthrough that could have applications in a range of fields from semiconductors to medicine.

The research was featured on the cover of Wednesday’s issue of Nature. It is the first time a Korean study has been on the cover of the world’s most authoritative scientific journal.

Nam Koo-hyun of Ewha Womans University, who led the research, said his discovery may pave the way for the development of a cheaper and quicker way to produce nano-channels.

His team is the first to discover a technique to control cracking and make use of it, he said.

“The formation of cracks is traditionally considered an unpleasant phenomenon because we thought it is impossible to control,” Nam told The Korea Herald.

Nam’s team used silicon wafers, thin slices of semiconductor material, in their experiment.

They created micro-scaled cuts in a thin brittle film deposited on the silicon in order to control the starting point of cracking, and put a “crack-stop-structure” to terminate the cracking.

“By doing this we can place the starting point of cracking very precisely, and even control the direction of the cracks and bend them around corners,” Nam told The Korea Herald.

The nano-channels that are small enough to allow ions or molecules of a certain size to pass through are highly in demand in chemistry and molecular biology, such as DNA analysis.

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