Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm not a physicist, but I'm really interested in Nanotechnology. I've a question, and I hope that I can be provided by an answer.

I was reading some articles about the one-dimensional CdSe nanostructures. My question is why it's called one-dimensional? Is it because of their geometrical shapes or something else?

I truly appreciate any hint or a resource could lead to the answer.


share|cite|improve this question
up vote 1 down vote accepted

It's because the atoms are arranged in a long chain that interacts mostly with itself, and very little (at least for the electrons of interest) with atoms in other chains. A better term might be "quasi-1D" since of course the atoms themselves are 3D, but 1D does convey the key idea that the parts of interest are interacting along a single dimension of space.

Quantum mechanics does very odd things when you insist that the wavelike properties of matter be limited to lines, planes, or for that matter points (quantum does, atoms). You can see one reason by thinking about waves in tunnels: They don't dissipate! A blast deep within a tunnel has nearly the same force when it exits it does when it happens deep in the tunnel, which is why explosive trucks are banned from long tunnels.

In quantum mechanics your waves are further constrained by the need to arrive at a resonant, repeating pattern, which somewhat ironically is called a "stationary" solution since whatever it is doesn't appear to be moving when examined from our classical perspective. For long chains, that means that any long waves (e.g., conduction electrons in a metal) must stabilize into solutions that are topologically similar to ordinary skip ropes, ones that can have one, two, three, or many more loops. For a semiconductor such as CdSe you have more complicated electron configurations and energy levels, but you still maintain that need to settle into nicely resonant solutions.

That in turn can lead to really interesting electronic and optical behaviors, which is why the fields of 1D and 2D (and 0D, quantum dots) have had and continue to have a lot of interesting materials research going on in them.

share|cite|improve this answer
Thanks, Terry. Can you please provide any references? – user9292 Jul 7 '12 at 19:43
act00, can you be more specific on that? References e.g. on 1-dimension metals, or CdSe, or lower-dimensional metals in general? I should warn you in advance that most of the articles are deeply technical and not likely to be what you are looking for. I don't know offhand of any beginner's level intros to these topics, mainly because they all begin with a pretty good understanding of QM and dive in from there. Here's a Wikipedia intro into one of the classic 1D metal topics, which is called Peierl's condensation. – Terry Bollinger Jul 7 '12 at 23:29

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.