The Aphrodita aculeata, known in less exotic terms as the shimmering sea mouse, could hold the key to creating nanoscale electronics and make it possible to produce nanowires 100 times longer than before and at a cheaper price.
According to the New Scientist, boffins wondered if the hollow channels struck through each of the shimmering mouse’s setae – the reflective spines which lend the sea mouse its iridescence – might also be useful as a mould for making nanowires.
Nanowires are predicted to be used more and more as technology evolves, with future uses including in-vitro health sensors all the way to radical computer processors.
The shimmering sea mouse theory was tested by Florian Mumm and Pawel Sikorski at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, which took setae from dead shimmering sea mice (small worms the size of a thumb), put a charged gold electrode at one end and fired copper or nickel ions into the hollow channels from the other end. These were attracted to the charge plate, filling up the tube and growing into nanowires.
If the tests continue and it is found that this is a good alternative, it could spell a range of longer, cheaper nanowires for the industry.
“Nanowires are at most 0.2 millimetres long, usually. Ours can be grown up to 2 centimetres long,” said Mumm.