Electronic connections made with strands of zirconium tritelluride (ZrTe3) nanoribbons can sustain a current density 50 times greater than conventional copper interconnects. Conventional metals are polycrystalline, with grain boundaries and surface roughness that scatter electrons. Quasi-one-dimensional materials such as ZrTe3 consist of single-crystal atomic chains in one direction, therefore no grain boundaries, which engineers believe is the reason for the high current density.
In principle, such quasi-1D materials could be grown directly into nanowires with a cross-section that corresponds to an individual atomic thread, or chain. This is an important development since as developers miniaturize devices, the internal interconnects between parts must become proportionately smaller.