Yu Huang, 27
Fashions three-dimensional grids of nanowires that act as electronic circuits
Chinese-born Yu Huang came to the United States in 1999 to pursue an advanced education in materials science. It didn’t take long, however, before she developed creative new ways to make nanoelectronics. One of her first breakthroughs was a method for controlling the assembly of circuitry made from semiconducing wires less than 100 nanometers in diameter. Huang, who received her PhD in June from Harvard University and is now a Lawrence Livermore fellow at MIT, suspended nanowires made of silicon and other materials in an ethanol solution. She then forced the fluid through tiny channels in a plastic mold, creating parallel nanowire arrays. Using the method, she built nanowire grids that could finction as electronic circuits. She also demonstrated that she could build up layers of arrays, creating three-dimensional circuitry. Huang says her approach, unlike other methods of assembling nanowires, could be scaled up to produce millions of devices at a time. Even though practical products are likely at least a decade away,, several computer chip manufacturers, including Intel, have expressed interest.