Wednesday, March 12, 2008

US Patent 7341651 - Atomic nanofluidics

Electrophoresis is a well known phenomena of microfluidics in which dispersed particles are moved in microchannels using electrostatic forces. This patent from the University of California teaches an analogous nanoscale system using a carbon nanotube as the channel and atoms as the particles under electrostatic transport which can potentially be used in a nanofluidic delivery system. Claim 1 reads:

1. A mass transport device for delivering atoms from source particles, comprising: (a) a channel having an atomically smooth surface; (b) at least one source particle fixed to the surface of the channel at a position along its length; and (c) an electrode operatively coupled to the channel on one side of the source particle, and a counter electrode operatively coupled to the channel on another side of the source particle, said electrodes being adapted to be attached to a controllable voltage source, wherein the device is configured to reversibly transport the atoms from the source particle along the channel towards one electrode and away from the other in response to the applied voltage.