Long-range spontaneous droplet self-propulsion on wettability gradient surfaces

The directional and long-range droplet transportation is of great importance in microfluidic systems. However, it usually requires external energy input. Here we designed a wettability gradient surface that can drive droplet motion by structural topography.

The surface has a wettability gradient range of over 150° from superhydrophobic to hydrophilic, which was achieved by etching silicon nanopillars and adjusting the area of hydrophilic silicon dioxide plane. We conducted force analysis to further reveal the mechanism for droplet self-propulsion, and found that the nanostructures are critical to providing a large driving force and small resistance force.

Theoretical calculation has been used to analyze the maximal self-propulsion displacement on different gradient surfaces with different volumes of droplets. On this basis, we designed several surfaces with arbitrary paths, which achieved directional and long-range transportation of droplet. These results clarify a driving mechanism for droplet self-propulsion on wettability gradient surfaces, and open up new opportunities for long-range and directional droplet transportation in microfluidic system. READ MORE

Metal vapor micro-jet controls material redistribution in laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing

The results of detailed experiments and finite element modeling of metal micro-droplet motion associated with metal additive manufacturing (AM) processes are presented. Ultra high speed imaging of melt pool dynamics reveals that the dominant mechanism leading to micro-droplet ejection in a laser powder bed fusion AM is not from laser induced recoil pressure as is widely believed and found in laser welding processes, but rather from vapor driven entrainment of micro-particles by an ambient gas flow.  READ MORE

High-speed spinning disks on flexible threads

A common spinning toy, called “buzzer”, consists of a perforated disk and flexible threads. Despite of its simple construction, a buzzer can effectively transfer translational motions into high-speed rotations.

In the present work, we find that the disk can be spun by hand at an extremely high rotational speed, e.g., 200,000 rpm, which is much faster than the previously reported speed of any manually operated device. We explore, both experimentally and theoretically, the detailed mechanics and potential applications of such a thread–disk system. The theoretical prediction, validated by experimental measurements, can help design and optimize the system for, e.g., easier operation and faster rotation.

Furthermore, we investigate the synchronized motion of multiple disks spinning on a string. Distinctly different twist waves can be realized by the multi-disk system, which could be exploited in the control of mechanical waves. Finally, we develop two types of manually-powered electric generators based on the thread–disk system. The high-speed rotation of the rotors enables a pulsed high current, which holds great promise for potential applications in, for instance, generating electricity and harvesting energy from ocean waves and other rhythmic translational motions. READ MORE