To better understand the transport of simple and complex liquids under extreme confinement conditions, our research group is conducting fluid flow experiments in conduits consisting of carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes are a convenient material with which to work for several reasons. First, carbon nanotubes can be fabricated with diameters ranging from a fraction of a nanometer to many several hundreds of nanometers, allowing one to conduct experiments with various tube sizes. Second, the tubes’ surface properties can be modified with heat and/or chemical treatments to facilitate behaviors ranging from hydrophilic to hydrophobic, allowing one to probe the effect of surface properties on the liquids’ behaviors. Third, the tubes’ walls are sufficiently thin to be transparent to light and electrons. The last attribute can be taken advantage of to carry out high-resolution, fluid mechanical and biological experiments in the high vacuum environment of the electron microscope. The talk will describe a hybrid fabrication technique for carbon nanotube-based devices and optical and electron microscope observations of the transport of simple liquids and liquids laden with particles through the tubes. The experimental observations will be compared with theoretical predictions.
Burton Morgan Entrepreneurship Center, Room 121