Project COAXING NANORODS TO FORM PATTERNS

Karl is researching a novel and simple way to create the nano-scale circuit lines on tomorrow's chips. It's a fundamentally new method, he says, but it's based on a process that has been proved fast and efficient by millions of years of biological evolution: self-assembly. That's crucial because really tiny nanocircuitry — consisting of semiconductor particles no more than a few nanometers wide — will defy fabrication by today's chipmaking technology.

Karl conjectured that he could suspend tiny semiconductor rods in a liquid-crystal solvent and deposit the solution on a membrane with minute pores. The solvent would drain through the pores, leaving behind an orderly pattern of nanorods. At Western Washington University's Chemistry Dept., he experimented with various rods, solvents, and membranes — and finally hit paydirt with one combination: zinc-oxide rods on a polycarbonate membrane. Karl believes he's now on the trail of a technique that could lead to a practical process for self-assembly of nanoelectronic devices.


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INTEL SCIENCE SEARCH FINALIST Karl J. Plank

Karl J. Plank


Squalicum High School
Bellingham, Wash.


Hobbies: Competitive swimming, building model bridges


Ambition: Heart or brain surgeon, or medical research