Tiny Nanowires Can Lift Liquids Without Power

Researchers from MIT and other universities have demonstrated that nanowires, when inserted into a pool of liquid, naturally draw the liquid upward in a thin film that coats the surface of the wire. This phenomenon had been predicted by theorists but never observed because the process is too small to be seen by optical microscopes, and electron microscopes need to operate in a vacuum, which would cause most liquids to evaporate. The research team used an ionic liquid called DMPI-TFSI that remains stable even in a powerful vacuum. Though the observations used this specific liquid, the results should apply to most liquids, including water. The finding could have applications in microfluidic devices, biomedical research, and inkjet printers. Adding an electric voltage on the wire increases the force of the upward pull.