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The present invention provides integrated nanostructures comprising a single-crystalline matrix of a material A containing aligned, single-crystalline nanowires of a material B, with well-defined crystallographic interfaces are disclosed. The nanocomposite is fabricated by utilizing metal nanodroplets in two subsequent catalytic steps: solid-liquid-vapor etching, followed by vapor-liquid-solid growth. The first etching step produces pores, or “negative nanowires” within a single-crystalline matrix, which share a unique crystallographic direction, and are therefore aligned with respect to one another. Further, since they are contained within a single, crystalline, matrix, their size and spacing can be controlled by their interacting strain fields, and the array is easily manipulated as a single entity—addressing a great challenge to the integration of freestanding nanowires into functional materials. In the second, growth, step, the same metal nanoparticles are used to fill the pores with single-crystalline nanowires, which similarly to the negative nanowires have unique growth directions, and well-defined sizes and spacings. The two parts of this composite behave synergistically, since this nanowire-filled matrix contains a dense array of well-defined crystallographic interfaces, in which both the matrix and nanowire materials convey functionality to the material. The material of either one of these components may be chosen from a vast library of any material able to form a eutectic alloy with the metal in question, including but not limited to every material thus far grown in nanowire form using the ubiquitous vapor-liquid-solid approach. This has profound implications for the fabrication of any material intended to contain a functional interface, since high interfacial areas and high quality interfacial structure should be expected. Technologies to which this simple approach could be applied include but are not limited to p-n junctions of solar cells, battery electrode arrays, multiferroic materials, and plasmonic materials.


University of Kentucky Research Foundation, Lexington, KY (US)

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