Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Magnet lab researcher exploring science behind commercial applications of liquid helium

12.12.2005


Picture a teaspoon of powdered sugar. As fine a substance as it is, there still are tremendous differences in the sizes of its individual particles. Some are so small, they move around randomly and are invisible to the naked eye.



Now, let’s say you wanted to choose only particles of a certain size from those in the spoon. Traditional technology and scientific techniques can separate quantities of particles of different sizes down to a few microns, but beyond that, it’s not currently possible to perform this operation at the submicron level. Being able to do so would allow for the production of certain types of drugs that are most effective when inhaled.

How small is a submicron? Consider that a micron is a mere 0.00004 of an inch. Yet unlocking the mystery of how to manipulate, measure and separate very tiny particles has tremendous applications for the pharmaceutical industry and could change how some medications are delivered and how effective they are.


That’s the backdrop for the research of Steven W. Van Sciver, a professor of mechanical engineering with the Florida A&M University/Florida State University College of Engineering and an expert in cryogenics (the study of low-temperature phenomena) at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee. Van Sciver is working with technology company Oxford Instruments on the first phase of a grant to help prove the concept behind a patent-pending cryogenic technique for particle separation from a few microns down to submicrons.

With funding from Oxford Instruments, Van Sciver is performing the basic science behind how particles behave in liquid helium. Helium turns into liquid only at very low temperatures (minus 452 degrees Fahrenheit, where virtually everything else is frozen solid). If helium is cooled to even lower temperatures, it becomes "superfluid," meaning that if placed in a closed loop it can flow endlessly without friction.

"Superfluid helium has extraordinary properties," said Van Sciver. "Because of its unique viscosity and heat conductivity, its flow can be controlled to a degree you can’t get with other fluids. It has lots of potential for commercial applications."

In a letter published in a recent issue of Nature Physics, Van Sciver wrote that when superfluid helium flows toward and then around a relatively large object, say the size of a small stone, it has a tendency to create whirlpools not just in the back, as would be expected, but also in the front. So a portion is flowing "counterflow," or in an opposite direction. This is a unique observation and a link in the chain of science that Van Sciver hopes ultimately will lead to development of a cryogenic technique for particle separation. (To view the abstract of Van Sciver’s letter, see www.nature.com/nphys/journal/v1/n1/full/nphys114.html.)

Toward this end, Van Sciver is moving forward on a research-and-development program funded by Oxford Instruments to establish the operating principles behind a device to separate particles. Proper sizing of particles is critically important for effective "aspiration" delivery of medication; some medications are much better tolerated when absorbed through the lungs rather than through the bloodstream.

"In order to deliver respiratory medications to the deep lung efficiently, careful engineering of the size and density of the microparticles in the drug is essential," said Neal Kalechofsky, technology development manager with Oxford Instruments, a global technology company that provides tools and systems for the physical science and bioscience sectors. "Through our partnership with FSU, we are exploring the extension of low-temperature technology to new applications in microparticle classification."

Steven W. Van Sciver | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.magnet.fsu.edu
http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/v1/n1/full/nphys114.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>