Nanowires Defined - What Nanowires Are, What They Are Made From and How They Are Used

Topics Covered


Nanowire Size

Quantum Mechanical Effects

Nanowire Conductivity


Nanowire Manufacturing


Nanowires are just like normal electrical wires other than the fact that they are extremely small. Like conventional wires, nanowires can be made from a variety of conducting and semiconducting materials like copper, silver, gold, iron, silicon, zinc oxide and germanium. Nanowires can also be made from carbon nanotubes.

Nanowire Size

Nanowires are less than 100 nanometers in diameter and can be as small as 3 nanometers. Typically nanowires are more than 1000 times longer than their diameter. This massive difference in the length to diameter ratio means than nanowires are often referred to as 1-dimensional materials. This leads to unique properties that are not seen in the bulk materials, such as Quantum Mechanical Effects.

Quantum Mechanical Effects

The minute size of nanowires means that quantum mechanical effects become important. “Quantum Wires” exploit quantum mechanics to produce wires with a range of unique electrical properties. These properties include Quantum Tunnelling that allows wires made from carbon nanotubes to have extremely high conductivity with electrons travelling ballistically through the wire.

Nanowire Conductivity

Defects, edge effects and scattering caused when nanowire width is below the free electron mean free path of the wire material, means nanowires made from metals can have conductivity much lower than that for the bulk material.


Nanowires show promise for use in applications including:

•        Exceptionally small electronic circuits

•        Memory devices

•        Transistors

•        Advanced composite materials

•        Quantum devices

•        Biomolecular nanosensors

•        MEMS

•        Optoelectronics

•        Field Emitters

•        Photon Ballistic Waveguides

Nanowire Manufacturing

Nanowires do not occur spontaneously in nature and must be produced under controlled conditions. Synthesis methods for the production of nanowires include vapour deposition, suspension and Vapor-Liquid-Solid (VLS) synthesis methods.

Source: AZoNano

For more information on this source please visit AZoNano



  1. Gloria Neumann Gloria Neumann United States says:

    This is very interesting what about if this are applied in a fiber or a filament on a fabric can conduct energy , heat or cold? What more can be happening?

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.