Artist’s impression based on a real atomic force microscopy (AFM) image showing conductive supramolecular fibers trapped between two gold electrodes spaced 100 nm apart. Each plastic fiber is composed of several short fibers and is capable of transporting electrical charges with the same efficiency as a metal.
Researchers from CNRS and the Université de Strasbourg, headed by Nicolas Giuseppone (1) and Bernard Doudin (2), have succeeded in making highly conductive plastic fibers that are only several nanometers thick. These nanowires, for which CNRS has filed a patent, “self-assemble” when triggered by a flash of light. Inexpensive and easy to handle, unlike carbon nanotubes (3), they combine the advantages of the two materials currently used to conduct electric current: metals and plastic organic polymers (4). In fact, their remarkable electrical properties are similar to those of metals.