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

News and information

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Leti Will Demo World’s-first WVGA 10-µm Pitch GaN Microdisplays for Augmented Reality Video at Display Week in Los Angles: Invited Paper also Will Present Leti’s Success with New Augmented Reality Technology That Reduces Pixel Pitch to Less than 5 Microns May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

Imaging

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

The brighter side of twisted polymers: Conjugated polymers designed with a twist produce tiny, brightly fluorescent particles with broad applications May 16th, 2017

UnitySC Announces Wafer Thinning Inspection System; Win from Power Semiconductor IDM for Automotive: Leading IDM Selects New 4See Series Automated Defect Inspection Platform for Power Semiconductor Automotive Applications May 11th, 2017

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research and Microscopy and Analysis Present the Webinar: “Video-Rate Atomic Force Microscopy Enables New Research Opportunities” May 9th, 2017

Laboratories

NREL’s Advanced Atomic Layer Deposition Enables Lithium-Ion Battery Technology: May 10th, 2017

Discovery of new transparent thin film material could improve electronics and solar cells: Conductivity is highest-ever for thin film oxide semiconductor material May 6th, 2017

Sandia develops math techniques to improve computational efficiency in quantum chemistry May 5th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Stanford scientists use nanotechnology to boost the performance of key industrial catalyst May 18th, 2017

Oddball enzyme provides easy path to synthetic biomaterials May 17th, 2017

Nanoelectronics

Oddball enzyme provides easy path to synthetic biomaterials May 17th, 2017

Racyics Launches ‘makeChip’ Design Service Platform for GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 22FDX® Technology: Racyics will provide IP and design services as a part of the foundry’s FDXcelerator™ Partner Program May 11th, 2017

Researchers “iron out” graphene’s wrinkles: New technique produces highly conductive graphene wafers April 3rd, 2017

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

Discoveries

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

Announcements

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria: Rice, Ben-Gurion universities show laser-induced graphene kills bacteria, resists biofouling May 22nd, 2017

Leti Will Demo World’s-first WVGA 10-µm Pitch GaN Microdisplays for Augmented Reality Video at Display Week in Los Angles: Invited Paper also Will Present Leti’s Success with New Augmented Reality Technology That Reduces Pixel Pitch to Less than 5 Microns May 22nd, 2017

Sensors detect disease markers in breath May 19th, 2017

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Tools

Plasmon-powered upconversion nanocrystals for enhanced bioimaging and polarized emission: Plasmonic gold nanorods brighten lanthanide-doped upconversion superdots for improved multiphoton bioimaging contrast and enable polarization-selective nonlinear emissions for novel nanoscal May 19th, 2017

The brighter side of twisted polymers: Conjugated polymers designed with a twist produce tiny, brightly fluorescent particles with broad applications May 16th, 2017

Racyics Launches ‘makeChip’ Design Service Platform for GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 22FDX® Technology: Racyics will provide IP and design services as a part of the foundry’s FDXcelerator™ Partner Program May 11th, 2017

UnitySC Announces Wafer Thinning Inspection System; Win from Power Semiconductor IDM for Automotive: Leading IDM Selects New 4See Series Automated Defect Inspection Platform for Power Semiconductor Automotive Applications May 11th, 2017

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

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries: Rice University prototypes store 3 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries May 19th, 2017

Self-healing tech charges up performance for silicon-containing battery anodes May 15th, 2017

Gas gives laser-induced graphene super properties: Rice University study shows inexpensive material can be superhydrophilic or superhydrophobic May 15th, 2017

Is this the 'holey' grail of batteries? May 12th, 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