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Semiconducting nanostructures such as nanowires (NWs) have been used as building blocks for various types of sensors, energy storage and generation devices, electronic devices and for new manufacturing methods involving printed NWs. The response of these sensing/energy/electronic components and the new fabrication methods depends very much on the quality of NWs and for this reason it is important to understand the growth mechanism of 1D semiconducting nanostructures. This is also important to understand the compatibility of NW growth steps and tools used in the process with these unconventional substrates such as plastic that are used in flexible and large area electronics. Therefore, this Element presents at length discussion about the growth mechanisms, growth conditions and the tools used for the synthesis of NWs. Although NWs from Si, ZnO and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are included, the discussion is generic and relevant to several other types of NWs as well as heterostructures.
Most people are impressed, if not amazed, at the fantastic progress in the
biomedical field, which barely existed 50 years ago. There have been giant
leaps not just in the manner in which technology is being used to treat
patients, but also in the way the electronics and sensors have diffused into
society and resulted in paradigm shifts in health monitoring. Electronic
microsystems can now be ingested (e.g. swallowable capsules) to explore the
gastrointestinal tract and can transmit the acquired information to a base
station . The march of electronic technologies to the atomic scale and to
non-planarity (i.e. three dimensions), and rapid advances in system, cell,
and molecular biology will forge an increased synergy between electronics
and biology, and we can see more exciting opportunities in the near future.
For example, in the next decade it may become possible to restore vision or
reverse the effects of spinal cord injury or disease, or for a lab-on-a-chip
to allow medical diagnoses without a clinic, or instantaneous biological
agent detection. Some of these fields are discussed in detail in other
chapters of this book. Similarly, we may see new ways of recording neural
signals or brain–machine interfaces if the electronics could become
ultra-thin, bendable, and stretchable, and thus integrate intimately with
the soft, curvilinear surfaces of biological tissues. Some of these
developments are discussed in Chapters 22–27. Recent results in this
direction are encouraging and make it a real possibility in the near future
[2,3]. This chapter is about this key enabler, i.e. epidermal electronics,
which will lead to further convergence of biology and electronics. The term
epidermal electronics here also refers to electronic skin or e-skin (Figure
19.1), which is an ultra-thin and lightweight structure with electronic
and/or sensing components on flexible/bendable substrates.
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