fall 2013

A Fighter Pilot and Researcher of Nanometer Threads

...continued from previous page.

D.'s first course was in chemistry, and although he hadn't yet decided exactly which direction he would follow (that would come later), he decided to major in natural sciences. D. completed his undergraduate studies in four and a half years, shortly after he completed his compulsory service. With one of his subjects -- disciplinary mathematics -- he was able to study with his sister, who had also begun her studies at OUI while doing her military service.

Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, D. applied to the Weizmann Institute, the Technion and Tel Aviv University. When the acceptance from Weizmann Institute arrived in the mail, D. did not hesitate and immediately accepted. He liked the idea of learning in such an outstanding academic environment and also that he would not have to initially declare in which field of chemistry he wanted to focus. D. started out in research, completed his graduate degree and continued towards his doctorate also at Weizmann Institute.

D.'s research is in nano-technology, where he is responsible for organizing the research on single dimensional elements -- in this case, nanometer threads which are exceedingly narrow and conned to tens of nanometer threads. Because of their narrow width they are considered single dimensional, in other words a thread whose single dimension is its length with no width. Why is this important? "These threads are used in the manufacture of blue led lights -- which has great significance in the field of lighting and in radar electronics in the military."

D.'s suggested thesis paper reads as follows: "Directed Growth of Horizontal Nano-Threads." In essence, the idea is to create order in the imbroglio of nano-threads. Many people have manufactured nano-threads, but few have succeeded in transforming them into profitable enterprises. The reason is the standard manufacturing process of nano-threads results in an entanglement of threads which cannot be distinguished from one another. If you want to work with them, you must take each thread separately, stretch it and line up the ends with the contacts in order to use them industrially, such as for a transistor. The problem is when manufacturing a computer, you need not one thread, but a billion such threads, and performing this task a billion times is unprofitable.

"In our research group," D. explains, "we succeeded in reaching a situation whereby the threads were organized from the outset like good little soldiers, or like the teeth of a comb one alongside the other. All you have to do is to glue one common contact to one of the sides of the lines of threads and the second contact to the other side -- and therefore to take advantage of all the threads at once."

The article was published in the prestigious journal Science. The article made quite a few waves, and the research was considered to be breakthrough. "The secret behind our discovery lies in the surface on which we grew the threads. The surface was made from crystal different from that of the threads, and this lack of commonality between the two types of crystals caused the threads that were manufactured to prefer to 'cooperate' in one direction."

D.'s name is the lead name in the article which appeared in Science. His plans for the future include research, even after he finishes his doctorate, which should be shortly.

On hindsight, how do you view your time at the Open University?

"It was an excellent experience for me. After the last laboratory class, I saw that located right near my lab there was a bank of telephone operators who are always available to answer questions from the students, no matter what the problem. I went in one day to say thank-you, because they were always willing to help and did so happily and efficiently. After having encountered so many other telephone centers, where inefficiency and apathy reigns, the center at OUI was a breath of fresh air. For me the Open University of Israel is an organization that does everything in its power to help the student -- from the telephone operators to the quality of the faculty -- and this is simply wonderful."

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