Nav: Home

Researchers use acoustic waves to move fluids at the nanoscale

November 14, 2016

A team of mechanical engineers at the University of California San Diego has successfully used acoustic waves to move fluids through small channels at the nanoscale. The breakthrough is a first step toward the manufacturing of small, portable devices that could be used for drug discovery and microrobotics applications. The devices could be integrated in a lab on a chip to sort cells, move liquids, manipulate particles and sense other biological components. For example, it could be used to filter a wide range of particles, such as bacteria, to conduct rapid diagnosis.

The researchers detail their findings in the Nov. 14 issue of Advanced Functional Materials. This is the first time that surface acoustic waves have been used at the nanoscale.

The field of nanofluidics has long struggled with moving fluids within channels that are 1000 times smaller than the width of a hair, said James Friend, a professor and materials science expert at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. Current methods require bulky and expensive equipment as well as high temperatures. Moving fluid out of a channel that's just a few nanometers high requires pressures of 1 megaPascal, or the equivalent of 10 atmospheres.

Researchers led by Friend had tried to use acoustic waves to move the fluids along at the nano scale for several years. They also wanted to do this with a device that could be manufactured at room temperature.

After a year of experimenting, post-doctoral researcher Morteza Miansari, now at Stanford, was able to build a device made of lithium niobate with nanoscale channels where fluids can be moved by surface acoustic waves. This was made possible by a new method Miansari developed to bond the material to itself at room temperature. The fabrication method can be easily scaled up, which would lower manufacturing costs. Building one device would cost $1000 but building 100,000 would drive the price down to $1 each.

The device is compatible with biological materials, cells and molecules.

Researchers used acoustic waves with a frequency of 20 megaHertz to manipulate fluids, droplets and particles in nanoslits that are 50 to 250 nanometers tall. To fill the channels, researchers applied the acoustic waves in the same direction as the fluid moving into the channels. To drain the channels, the sound waves were applied in the opposite direction.

By changing the height of the channels, the device could be used to filter a wide range of particles, down to large biomolecules such as siRNA, which would not fit in the slits. Essentially, the acoustic waves would drive fluids containing the particles into these channels. But while the fluid would go through, the particles would be left behind and form a dry mass. This could be used for rapid diagnosis in the field.
-end-


University of California - San Diego

Related Nanoscale Articles:

Information storage with a nanoscale twist
Discovery of a novel rotational force inside magnetic vortices makes it easier to design ultrahigh capacity disk drives.
Researchers use acoustic waves to move fluids at the nanoscale
A team of mechanical engineers at the University of California San Diego has successfully used acoustic waves to move fluids through small channels at the nanoscale.
Core technology springs from nanoscale rods
Rice University scientists have demonstrated a method for reversibly changing the light emitted from metallic nanorods by moving atoms from one place to another inside the particles.
Tooth decay -- drilling down to the nanoscale
With one in two Australian children reported to have tooth decay in their permanent teeth by age 12, researchers from the University of Sydney believe they have identified some nanoscale elements that govern the behavior of our teeth.
Beating the heat a challenge at the nanoscale
A little heat from a laser can disrupt measurements of materials at the nanoscale, according to Rice University scientists.
New nanoscale technologies could revolutionize microscopes, study of disease
Research completed through a collaboration with University of Missouri engineers, biologists, and chemists could transform how scientists study molecules and cells at sub-microscopic (nanoscale) levels.
New tool allows scientists to visualize 'nanoscale' processes
Chemists at UC San Diego have developed a new tool that allows scientists for the first time to see, at the scale of five billionths of a meter, 'nanoscale' mixing processes occurring in liquids.
Heat and light get larger at the nanoscale
In a new study recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, researchers from Columbia Engineering, Cornell, and Stanford have demonstrated heat transfer can be made 100 times stronger than has been predicted, simply by bringing two objects extremely close -- at nanoscale distances -- without touching.
Revealing the ion transport at nanoscale
EPFL researchers have shown that a law of physics having to do with electron transport at nanoscale can also be analogously applied to the ion transport.
Systems analysis -- from the nanoscale to the global
Two major research grants were announced today by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Related Nanoscale Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...