Transport and trapping of nanosheets via hydrodynamic forces and curvature-induced capillary quadrupolar interactions

J Colloid Interface Sci. 2018 Dec 1;531:352-359. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2018.07.068. Epub 2018 Jul 18.


Hypothesis: The manipulation of nanosheets on a fluid-fluid interface remains a significant challenge. At this interface, hydrodynamic forces can be used for long-range transport (>1× capillary length) but are difficult to utilize for accurate and repeatable positioning. While capillary multipole interactions have been used for particle trapping, how these interactions manifest on large but thin objects, i.e., nanosheets, remains an open question. Hence, we posit hydrodynamic forces in conjunction with capillary multipole interactions can be used for nanosheet transport and trapping.

Experiments: We designed and characterized a fluidic device for transporting and trapping nanosheets on the water-air interface. Analytical models were compared against optical measurements of the nanosheet behavior to investigate capillary multipole interactions. Energy-based modeling and dimensional analysis were used to study trapping stability.

Findings: Hydrodynamic forces and capillary interactions successfully transported and trapped nanosheets at a designated trapping location with a repeatability of 10% of the nanosheet's length and 12% of its width (length = 1500 µm, width = 1000 µm) and an accuracy of 20% of their length and width. Additionally, this is the first report that surface tension forces acting upon nanoscale-thick objects manifest as capillary quadrupolar interactions and can be used for precision manipulation of nanosheets.

Keywords: Capillary interactions; Hydrodynamic; Microfluidics; Nanosheet; Quadrupolar; Trapping.