Fluids race through nearly frictionless carbon nanotubes

November 11, 2005
Fluids race through nearly frictionless carbon nanotubes

Within the cells of our bodies, fluids flow rapidly through miniscule, nearly frictionless, protein channels. Until now, human-made nanoscale structures have not been able to mimic those same speeds because the fluids flow slowly along the walls of the tiny structures.

Image: In this illustration, water travels through carbon nanotubes at a rate 10,000 to 100,000 times faster than models predict. Credit: M. Denomme, University of Kentucky

Researchers have now found that carbon nanotubes only 7 billionths of a meter in diameter can channel many fluids nearly friction free. With some fluids, the interiors of the tubes were so slippery that substances sailed through 10,000-100,000 times faster than models had predicted.

For the experiments, chemical and materials engineers Bruce Hinds, a National Science Foundation CAREER awardee, Mainak Majumder, Nitin Chopra and Rodney Andrews of the University of Kentucky fabricated membranes made from billions of aligned carbon nanotubes. The fabrication techniques easily adapt to large-scale production, which is important for industries that could use such membranes for separating commodity chemicals.

Hinds and his colleagues crafted the membranes so that each side can have different chemical properties. As a result, the selective membrane could one day be used to deliver drugs through the skin or in specialized chemical sensors.

The findings appeared in the Oct. 3, 2005, issue of the journal Nature.

Source: NSF

Explore further: Carbon nanotube membranes allow super-fast fluid flow

Related Stories

Carbon nanotube membranes allow super-fast fluid flow

November 3, 2005

Membranes composed of manmade carbon nanotubes permit a fluid flow nearly 10,000 to 100,000 times faster than conventional fluid flow theory would predict because of the nanotubes' nearly friction-free surface, researchers ...

Thinnest feasible nano-membrane produced

April 17, 2014

A new nano-membrane made out of the 'super material' graphene is extremely light and breathable. Not only can this open the door to a new generation of functional waterproof clothing, but also to ultra-rapid filtration. The ...

Carbon nanotubes mimic biology

July 7, 2017

Proteins in lipid membranes are one of the fundamental building blocks of biological functionality. Lawrence Livermore researchers have figured out how to mimic their role using carbon nanotube porins.

Recommended for you

Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity

November 17, 2017

Specially tailored, ultrafast pulses of light can trigger neurons to fire and could one day help patients with light-sensitive circadian or mood problems, according to a new study in mice at the University of Illinois.

Strain-free epitaxy of germanium film on mica

November 17, 2017

Germanium, an elemental semiconductor, was the material of choice in the early history of electronic devices, before it was largely replaced by silicon. But due to its high charge carrier mobility—higher than silicon by ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.