Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

“Liquid Pistons” Could Drive New Advances in Camera Lenses and Drug Delivery

12.01.2011
Versatile Liquid Pistons Developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Have No Solid Moving Parts, Essentially Eliminating Wear

A few unassuming drops of liquid locked in a very precise game of “follow the leader” could one day be found in mobile phone cameras, medical imaging equipment, implantable drug delivery devices, and even implantable eye lenses.

Engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed liquid pistons, in which oscillating droplets of ferrofluid precisely displace a surrounding liquid. The pulsating motion of the ferrofluid droplets, which are saturated with metal nanoparticles, can be used to pump small volumes of liquid. The study also demonstrated how droplets can function as liquid lenses that constantly move, bringing objects into and out of focus.

These liquid pistons are highly tunable, scalable, and – because they lack any solid moving parts – suffer no wear and tear. The research team, led by Rensselaer Professor Amir H. Hirsa, is confident this new discovery can be exploited to create a host of new devices ranging from micro displacement pumps and liquid switches, to adaptive lenses and advanced drug delivery systems.

“It is possible to make mechanical pumps that are small enough for use in lab-on-a-chip applications, but it’s a very complex, expensive proposition,” said Hirsa, a professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer. “Our electromagnetic liquid pistons present a new strategy for tackling the challenge of microscale liquid pumping. Additionally, we have shown how these pistons are well-suited for chip-level, fast-acting adaptive liquid lenses.”

Results of the study are detailed in the paper “Electromagnetic liquid pistons for capillarity-based pumping,” recently published online by the journal Lab on a Chip. The paper will be featured on the cover of the journal’s February 2011 issue, and can be read online at: http://xlink.rsc.org/?DOI=c0lc00397b

See a video of the liquid piston in action at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ms-_NT3eb4I

Hirsa’s team developed a liquid piston that is comprised of two ferrofluid droplets situated on a substrate about the size of a piece of chewing gum. The substrate has two holes in it, each hosting one of the droplets. The entire device is situated in a chamber filled with water.

Pulses from an electromagnet provoke one of the ferrofluid droplets, the driver, to vibrate back and forth. This vibration, in turn, prompts a combination of magnetic, capillary, and inertial forces that cause the second droplet to vibrate in an inverted pattern. The two droplets create a piston, resonating back and forth with great speed and a spring-like force. Researchers can finely control the strength and speed of these vibrations by exposing the driver ferrofluid to different magnetic fields.

In this way, the droplets become a liquid resonator, capable of moving the surrounding liquid back and forth from one chamber to another. Similarly, the liquid piston can also function as a pump. The shift in volume, as a droplet moves, can displace from the chamber an equal volume of the surrounding liquid. Hirsa said he can envision the liquid piston integrated into an implantable device that very accurately releases tiny, timed doses of drugs into the body of a patient.

As the droplets vibrate, their shape is always changing. By passing light through these droplets, the device is transformed into a miniature camera lens. As the droplets move back and forth, the lens automatically changes its focal length, eliminating the usual chore of manually focusing a camera on a specific object. The images are captured electronically, so software can be used to edit out any unfocused frames, leaving the user with a stream of clear, focused video.

The speed and quality of video captured from these liquid lenses has surpassed 30 hertz, which is about the quality of a typical computer web cam. Liquid lenses could mean lighter camera lenses that require only a fraction of the energy demanded by today’s digital cameras. Along with handheld and other electronic devices, and homeland security applications, Hirsa said this technology could even hold the key to replacement eye lenses that can be fine-tuned using only high-powered magnets.

“There’s really a lot we can do with these liquid pistons. It’s an exciting new technology with great potential, and we’re looking forward to moving the project even further along,” he said.

Along with Hirsa, co-authors on the paper are Rensselaer doctoral graduates Bernard Malouin Jr., now with MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory; and Michael Vogel, a private research consultant; Rensselaer mechanical engineering doctoral student Joseph Olles; and former postdoctoral researcher Lili Cheng, now with General Electric Global Research.

This study was supported with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

For more information on Hirsa’s research at Rensselaer, visit:

• Controlling Light With Sound: New Liquid Camera Lens as Simple as Water and Vibration

http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2783

• Liquid Lenses Promise Picture-Perfect Phone Cam Photos
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=liquid-lens
• Low-Power Liquid Lens
http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/21449/?a=f
Visit the Rensselaer research and discovery blog: http://approach.rpi.edu
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RPInews

Michael Mullaney | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.rpi.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>