Nanotechnology Project

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Environment, Health and Safety Research

NIRT - Collaborative Research: Experimental and Computational Investigations of Fluid Interactions/Transport in Nanodomains and Around Nanoparticles

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorRobert Thompson
InstitutionWorcester Polytechnic Institute
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsMarginal
Class of NanomaterialEngineered Nanomaterials
Impact SectorEnvironment
Broad Research Categories Generation, Dispersion, Transformation etc.
NNI identifier

Funding Information

Anticipated Total Funding$622,350.00
Annual Funding$124,470.00
Funding SourceNSF
Funding MechanismExtramural
Funding SectorGovernment
Start Year2002
Anticipated End Year2007


This grant is made under the Nanoscale Sciences and Engineering initiative, NSF 01-157, category NIRT, to address the growing interest in developing manufacturing processes and systems that involve fluids at the nanoscale. There also is continuing evidence that fluid phenomena that occur at the nanoscale are unlike macroscopic behavior. For example, some hydrophobic channels will permit liquid water to exist, while only slightly narrower channels will only permit water vapor to exist. Similar phenomena are expected to manifest when evaluating fluids other than water. The proposed experimental, theoretical and computational investigations will focus on the confinement and transport of water, alcohols, amines, and other interesting organic compounds in nanochannels. We will investigate both rectangular and cylindrical geometries with length scales from 1 nm to 1000 nm, and diameters, or widths, from 0.1 nm to 15 nm (or even larger). Surface materials will span the regime from hydrophobic to hydrophilic, considering amorphous and crystalline inorganic materials, and polymeric materials. Additionally, transport rates of fluids through nanochannels will be evaluated. It is anticipated that fluid flow properties and transport rates will be governed by fluid-surface interactions to a far greater extent than observed in macroscopic channels. The investigations at WPI will be complemented by research on flow behavior of nanoparticles in conventional, rotating and circulating fluidized beds performed by the NIRT group at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).

The generic geometry of the nanofluidic system and fluids to be considered are representative of important manufacturing systems and processes. The outcomes of the research have significance to nano-rheology, nano-lubrication, control of nanosurface properties, modeling and simulation at the nanoscale, lab-on-a-chip technologies, and other nanofluidic devices. Biosystems and environmental processes that involve nanofluidic transport through membranes and channels will also benefit from the expected outcomes. The research will be performed by an interdisciplinary team of PIs and graduate students at WPI that will collaborate with the NIRT group at NJIT. Additionally, we have collaborations with researchers in Taiwan, Germany, and Canada that will be of benefit to this effort. This investigation also has a strong educational component and will take advantage of WPI’s project-based educational system that requires each undergraduate to conduct a technical team-project (called the Major Qualifying Project, or MQP) and a team-project involving Society/Technology interactions (called the Interactive Qualifying Project, or IQP). Each MQP or IQP is equivalent to a three-course workload. The integration of undergraduate education and research will be pursued with MQPs to be conducted by teams of undergraduates from the three departments where the three PIs reside. In addition, the societal impacts of nanosciences and nanotechnologies will be pursued by a team of undergraduates conducting IQPs. These undergraduate projects will provide means for educating young scientists and engineers in new emerging technologies in interaction with an interdisciplinary research team.