A nanoscale probe for fluidic and ionic transport
Surface science and molecular biology are often concerned with systems governed by fluid dynamics at the nanoscale, where different physical behaviour is expected. With advances in nanofabrication techniques, the study of fluid dynamics around a nano-object or in a nano channel is now more accessible experimentally and has become an active field of research. However, developing nanoscale probes that can act as flow sensors and that can be easily integrated remains difficult. Many studies demonstrate that carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have outstanding potential for nanoscale sensing, acting as strain or charge sensors in chemical and biological environments. Although nanotube flow sensors composed of bulk nanotubes have been demonstrated16, they are not readily miniaturized to nanoscale dimensions. Here we report that individual carbon nanotube transistors of approx2 nm diameter, incorporated into microfluidic channels, locally sense the change in electrostatic potential induced by the flow of an ionic solution. We demonstrate that the nanotube conductance changes in response to the flow rate, functioning as a nanoscale flow sensor.