Most people would say that rust is a bad thing for numerous reasons, but in some cases oxidation can actually unlock new abilities for a material. Several kinds of oxides are already being used in electronics while still more are being developed. Now researchers at the University of Oklahoma and North Carolina State University have discovered a new way to create transition metal oxide nanostructures that could really help them permeate the market.
The researchers placed bulk transition metals at the hottest part of an oxygen-enriched flame which drove the reactions to create different kinds of 1D and 3D nanostructures. These structures include hollow channels that could be used for medical applications and nanorods that could be used with solar panels. In fact, when the researchers coated a solar panel with tungsten oxide nanorods they were able to increase its efficiency by an impressive 5%.
Importantly, this method of producing transition metal oxide nanostructures is both quick and cheap, so what interest there is in them now may soon grow. With more access to these flame-formed materials, other researchers may start devising new experiments to see what they can do with them.