Braiding wires using capillary forces

Electrical conductors that can carry frequencies of tens of GHz are needed for next-generation telecommunications networks. In principle, such conductors can be made from braided conducting filaments. However, maximizing the current-carrying capacity and minimizing loss requires each filament to have a diameter approximately equal to the skin depth, which is on the order of 1 micrometer at 10 GHz. Because such small filaments break easily, current manufacturing techniques cannot braid them. We have developed a technique to braid such small filaments using repulsive capillary forces. We attach microscale filaments to polymer “floats” that sit at a water-air interface such that the capillary force between the floats and the container walls is repulsive. As a result, the floats – and therefore the filaments – can be translated or rotated by moving the walls of the container. I will explain how the containers can be designed using principles of braid theory, and I will show how they can be used to braid wires into arbitrary topologies. 

This research is in collaboration with Cheng Zeng, John Miles Faaborg, Ahmed Sherif, Ming Xiao, Martin Falk. Rozhin Hajian, Yohai Bar Sinai, and Michael P. Brenner

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