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Fluidic Movement on Nanowires Trumps Tubes

The possibility that nanowires could naturally draw a liquid up their length has been theorized. Now, though, a team of researchers has shown that nanometer wires inserted into a pool of liquid naturally move the fluid along their surface. By contrast, tubes need suction to begin transporting fluids. The findings “might pave the way for new kinds of microelectromechanical systems to carry out research on materials at a molecular level.” Too, such small-scale fluid transport technology could benefit microfluidic devices such as a lab on a chip, biomedical research, or inkjet printers. The researchers, led by MIT scientists, used a special liquid and an electron microscope to observe the phenomenon. They say that the gravity-defying effect works with most liquids, including water, and could also be enhanced by applying an electric current to the wire to increase the force. The experiments were conducted with nanowires made of silicon, zinc oxide, tin oxide, and 2D graphene. They will also be using this research to further study different solid-liquid interactions, such as those that occur in electrodeposition and in the operation of batteries. Researchers from the US Sandia National Laboratories, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, and Zhejiang University contributed to the work, which appeared in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. (EurekAlert)(MIT News Office)

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