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Wee Wires Carry Electricity

Like the regular-sized copper wires that power our lamps and computers, miniscule copper nanowires are great at conducting electricity. Duke Professor Benjamin Wiley and his team are investigating how to brew up films thin sheets of copper nanowires that are precisely tailored to work as inexpensive, transparent electrodes in devices like touch screens, light-emitting diodes, and solar cells. To do this, they are experimenting with coating the wires with thin layers of other metals including (clockwise from top left) zinc, tin, platinum, gold, silver, and nickel, which each show up as different colors in these X-ray composite images.