Journal article

Filling Kinetics of Liquids in Nanochannels down to 27 nm Deep by Capillary Force

We report the filling kinetics of different liquids in nanofabricated capillaries with rectangular cross-section by capillary force. Three sets of channels with different geometry were employed for the experiments. The smallest dimension of the channel cross-section was respectively 27, 50, and 73 nm. Ethanol, isopropanol, water and binary mixtures of ethanol and water spontaneously filled nanochannels with inner walls exposing silanol groups. For all the liquids the position of the moving liquid meniscus was observed to be proportional to the square root of time, which is in accordance with the classical Washburn kinetics. The velocity of the meniscus decreased both with the dimension of the channel and the ratio between the surface tension and the viscosity. In the case of water, air-bubbles were spontaneously trapped as channels were filled. For a binary mixture of 40% ethanol and water, no trapping of air was observed anymore. The filling rate was higher than expected, which also corresponds to the dynamic contact angle for the mixture being lower than that of pure ethanol. Nanochannels and porous materials share many physicochemical properties, e.g., the comparable pores size and extremely high surface to volume ratio. These similarities suggest that our nanochannels could be used as an idealized model to study mass transport mechanisms in systems where surface phenomena dominate. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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