US Patent 7196450 - Nanoscale peristaltic pump
Peristaltic pumps are used to transport fluid using a series of rollers that mechanically displace fluid through a path. This patent from Ambient Systems takes the concept of peristaltic pumping to the nanoscale level by providing an array of electrically movable nanowires each of which emulate the motion of a jumprope to mechanically guide molecules along a path. Claim 1 reads:
1. An assembly immersed in a working substance having a plurality of molecules comprising: a base member; a first nanometer-scale beam fixed to said base member, wherein a portion of said first beam is free-to-move and said first beam has a first electric charge; and a charge member placed in the proximity of said first beam, wherein said charge member has a second electric charge, said first and second electric charges interact to provide motion of said free-moving portion, and said motion changes the average velocity of at least a few of said plurality of molecules along a desired direction; a second nanometer-scale beam fixed to said base member, wherein said second beam has a second portion that is free-to-move; and a channel having an input opening and an output opening, wherein said first and second beams are located in said channel between said input and output openings, wherein said desired direction is along a line from said input opening to said output opening.