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Researchers Examine Liquid Metal at Nanoscale

Fri, 08/16/2013 - 12:00pm
New Jersey Institute of Technology

Image: New Jersey Institute of TechnologyTwo New Jersey Institute of Technology researchers have demonstrated that — using a continuum-based approach — they can explain the dynamics of liquid metal particles on a substrate of a nanoscale. The work appears today in Physical Review Letters.

The evolution of fluid drops deposited on solid substrates has been a focus of large research effort for decades, says co-author Shahriar Afkhami, an assistant professor in the NJIT Department of Mathematical Sciences. “This effort has become particularly extensive on the nanoscale, due to the relevance of nanostructures in a variety of fields, ranging from DNA sequencing to plasmonics and nanomagnetism. And the research also applies to liquid crystal displays and solar panel designs.”

In this work, Afkhami with NJIT Prof. Lou Kondic, also in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, studied the liquid metal nanostructures placed on solid substrates. The study is of direct relevance to self- and directed-assembly of metal nanoparticles on surfaces. For example, the size and distribution of metallic particles strongly affects the yield of solar cell devices, Afkhami says.

In this work, however, the researchers demonstrate that using a continuum-based approach is appropriate on the nanoscale, where the basic assumptions of continuum fluid mechanics are pushed to the limits. The pair’s research is the first attempt to utilize state-of-the-art simulations based on continuum fluid mechanics to explain the dynamics of liquid metal particles on a substrate on the nanoscale.

“We demonstrated that continuum simulations provide a good qualitative agreement with atomistic simulations on the length scales in the range of one-10 nm and with the physical experiments length scales measured in the range of 100 nanometers,” adds Kondic.

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