Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Watching fluid flow at nanometer scales: Researchers find that tiny nanowires can lift liquids as effectively as tubes

Researchers find that tiny nanowires can lift liquids as effectively as tubes.
Researchers find that tiny nanowires can lift liquids as effectively as tubes.

Abstract:
Imagine if you could drink a glass of water just by inserting a solid wire into it and sucking on it as though it were a soda straw. It turns out that if you were tiny enough, that method would work just fine — and wouldn't even require the suction to start.

Watching fluid flow at nanometer scales: Researchers find that tiny nanowires can lift liquids as effectively as tubes

Cambridge, MA | Posted on April 1st, 2013

New research carried out at MIT and elsewhere has demonstrated for the first time that when inserted into a pool of liquid, nanowires — wires that are only hundreds of nanometers (billionths of a meter) across — naturally draw the liquid upward in a thin film that coats the surface of the wire. The finding could have applications in microfluidic devices, biomedical research and inkjet printers.

The phenomenon had been predicted by theorists, but never observed because the process is too small to be seen by optical microscopes; electron microscopes need to operate in a vacuum, which would cause most liquids to evaporate almost instantly. To overcome this, the MIT team used an ionic liquid called DMPI-TFSI, which remains stable even in a powerful vacuum. Though the observations used this specific liquid, the results are believed to apply to most liquids, including water.

The results are published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology by a team of researchers led by Ju Li, an MIT professor of nuclear science and engineering and materials science and engineering, along with researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, and Zhejiang University in China.

While Li says this research intended to explore the basic science of liquid-solid interactions, it could lead to applications in inkjet printing, or for making a lab on a chip. "We're really looking at fluid flow at an unprecedented small length scale," Li says — so unexpected new phenomena could emerge as the research continues.

At molecular scale, Li says, "the liquid tries to cover the solid surface, and it gets sucked up by capillary action." At the smallest scales, when the liquid forms a film less than 10 nanometers thick, it moves as a smooth layer (called a "precursor film"); as the film gets thicker, an instability (called a Rayleigh instability) sets in, causing droplets to form, but the droplets remain connected via the precursor film. In some cases, these droplets continue to move up the nanowire, while in other cases the droplets appear stationary even as the liquid within them flows upward.

The difference between the smooth precursor film and the beads, Li says, is that in the thinner film, each molecule of liquid is close enough to directly interact, through quantum-mechanical effects, with the molecules of the solid buried beneath it; this force suppresses the Rayleigh instability that would otherwise cause beading. But with or without beading, the upward flow of the liquid, defying the pull of gravity, is a continuous process that could be harnessed for small-scale liquid transport.

Although this upward pull is always present with wires at this tiny scale, the effect can be further enhanced in various ways: Adding an electric voltage on the wire increases the force, as does a slight change in the profile of the wire so that it tapers toward one end. The researchers used nanowires made of different materials — silicon, zinc oxide and tin oxide, as well as two-dimensional graphene — to demonstrate that this process applies to many different materials.

Nanowires are less than one-tenth the diameter of fluidic devices now used in biological and medical research, such as micropipettes, and one-thousandth the diameter of hypodermic needles. At these small scales, the researchers found, a solid nanowire is just as effective at holding and transferring liquids as a hollow tube. This smaller scale might pave the way for new kinds of microelectromechanical systems to carry out research on materials at a molecular level.

The methodology the researchers developed allows them to study the interactions between solids and liquid flow "at almost the smallest scale you could define a fluid volume, which is 5 to 10 nanometers across," Li says. The team now plans to examine the behavior of different liquids, using a "sandwich" of transparent solid membranes to enclose a liquid, such as water, for examination in a transmission electron microscope. This will allow "more systematic studies of solid-liquid interactions," Li says — interactions that are relevant to corrosion, electrodeposition and the operation of batteries.

The research was supported by Sandia National Laboratories, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Sarah McDonnell

617-253-8923

Copyright © Massachusetts Institute of Technology

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Laboratories

A big leap toward tinier lines: Self-assembly technique could lead to long-awaited, simple method for making smaller microchip patterns March 27th, 2017

News and information

A big leap toward tinier lines: Self-assembly technique could lead to long-awaited, simple method for making smaller microchip patterns March 27th, 2017

“Cysteine Rose” Wins 2016 Thermo Fisher Scientific Electron Microscopy Image Contest: Thermo Fisher honors Andrea Jacassi of the Italian Institute of Technology for image of cysteine crystals using focused ion beam techniques March 27th, 2017

Leti and HORIBA Scientific to Host Webinar on Ultrafast Characterization Tool: Plasma Profiling Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer Tool Cuts Optimization Time In Layer Deposition and Fabrication of Wide Range of Applications March 27th, 2017

Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm: Microstructures create temporary pores in cells March 27th, 2017

Researchers make flexible glass for tiny medical devices: Glass can bend over and over again on a nanoscale March 27th, 2017

Imaging

“Cysteine Rose” Wins 2016 Thermo Fisher Scientific Electron Microscopy Image Contest: Thermo Fisher honors Andrea Jacassi of the Italian Institute of Technology for image of cysteine crystals using focused ion beam techniques March 27th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

A big leap toward tinier lines: Self-assembly technique could lead to long-awaited, simple method for making smaller microchip patterns March 27th, 2017

Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm: Microstructures create temporary pores in cells March 27th, 2017

Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods March 25th, 2017

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen March 24th, 2017

Nanoelectronics

A big leap toward tinier lines: Self-assembly technique could lead to long-awaited, simple method for making smaller microchip patterns March 27th, 2017

Scientists discover new 'boat' form of promising semiconductor: GeSe Uncommon form attenuates semiconductor's band gap size March 23rd, 2017

UC researchers use gold coating to control luminescence of nanowires: University of Cincinnati physicists manipulate nanowire semiconductors in pursuit of making electronics smaller, faster and cheaper March 17th, 2017

A SOI wafer is a suitable substrate for gallium nitride crystals: Improved characteristics in power electronics and radio applications can be achieved by using a SOI wafer for gallium nitride growth March 4th, 2017

Discoveries

A big leap toward tinier lines: Self-assembly technique could lead to long-awaited, simple method for making smaller microchip patterns March 27th, 2017

Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm: Microstructures create temporary pores in cells March 27th, 2017

Researchers make flexible glass for tiny medical devices: Glass can bend over and over again on a nanoscale March 27th, 2017

Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods March 25th, 2017

Announcements

A big leap toward tinier lines: Self-assembly technique could lead to long-awaited, simple method for making smaller microchip patterns March 27th, 2017

“Cysteine Rose” Wins 2016 Thermo Fisher Scientific Electron Microscopy Image Contest: Thermo Fisher honors Andrea Jacassi of the Italian Institute of Technology for image of cysteine crystals using focused ion beam techniques March 27th, 2017

ATTOPSEMI Technology Joins FDXcelerator Program to Deliver Advanced Non-Volatile Memory IP to GLOBALFOUNDRIES 22 FDX® Technology Platform: Leading-edge I-fuse™ brings higher reliability, smaller cell size and ease of programmability for consumer, automotive, and IoT applications March 27th, 2017

Leti and HORIBA Scientific to Host Webinar on Ultrafast Characterization Tool: Plasma Profiling Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer Tool Cuts Optimization Time In Layer Deposition and Fabrication of Wide Range of Applications March 27th, 2017

Tools

“Cysteine Rose” Wins 2016 Thermo Fisher Scientific Electron Microscopy Image Contest: Thermo Fisher honors Andrea Jacassi of the Italian Institute of Technology for image of cysteine crystals using focused ion beam techniques March 27th, 2017

Leti and HORIBA Scientific to Host Webinar on Ultrafast Characterization Tool: Plasma Profiling Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer Tool Cuts Optimization Time In Layer Deposition and Fabrication of Wide Range of Applications March 27th, 2017

Researchers make flexible glass for tiny medical devices: Glass can bend over and over again on a nanoscale March 27th, 2017

Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods March 25th, 2017

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen March 24th, 2017

New nanofiber marks important step in next generation battery development March 14th, 2017

Imaging the inner workings of a sodium-metal sulfide battery for first time: Understanding how the structural and chemical makeup of the material changes during the charge/discharge process could help scientists advance battery design for future energy storage needs March 9th, 2017

Tweaking electrolyte makes better lithium-metal batteries: A pinch of electrolyte additive gives rechargeable battery stability, longer life March 2nd, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project