The researchers made use of the ZnO nanorods to guide the growth of nickel nanoclusters. The ZnO nanorod template acted as a nano-semicondutor electrode for depositing metal nanoclusters. The motivation was derived from the reverse thinking of the template-assisted growth of ZnO nanorods.

Electrochemical techniques were used to prepare the ZnO nanostructures and nickel nanoclusters. The growth sites of nickel nanoclusters could be controlled by adjusting the applied potential. Under –1.15 V, the nickel nanoclusters grew on the tips of ZnO nanorods. Making the potential more negative resulted in ZnO nanorods that were covered with nickel nanoclusters. The magnetic properties of the electrodeposited nickel nanoclusters also evolved with the applied potential.

It is expected that the ability to grow tunable magnetic-metal/semiconductor nanorod heterostructures could increase the versatility and power of these building blocks for applications in the field of nanoscale spintronics. In addition, nickel end capped or covered ZnO nanorods could be applied to make a matrix of devices as well as a single device using magnetic alignment. The group is currently pursuing the nanorod-guided growth of nanostructures and the application of these nanostructures in nanodevices.

The researchers presented their work in Nanotechnology.