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October 30th, 2003
Thin liquids get thicker
Fluids confined to nanoscale dimensions are more viscous than in the bulk, say two German physicists. Thomas Becker and Frieder Mugele of the University of Ulm have squeezed an organic liquid between two flat plates and watched it drain away. They find that as the thickness of the liquid film approaches molecular dimensions, its sluggishness, as measured by the coefficient of viscosity, rises dramatically. This effect may be highly relevant for attempts to use liquid lubricants in microelectromechanical (MEMS) devices, because these liquid layers also commonly are just a few molecules thick.
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