Nanoscale etchings make liquid flow uphill

Paul Raven @ 04-06-2009

OK, I can’t resist it – here’s an OMGZ SCIENCE!!1 story that is too good to pass up: nanoscale laser etchings on metallic surfaces can produce weird effects in their interaction with liquids, including the ability to make them flow against gravity.

Chunlei Guo, associate professor of optics at the University of Rochester in New York State, says: “We’re able to change the surface structure of almost any piece of metal so that we can control how liquid responds to it. We can even control the direction in which the liquid flows, or whether liquid flows at all.

That’s pretty cool in and of itself, but here’s your real sensawunda kick:

Guo and his assistant, Anatoliy Vorobyev, alter the surface of the metal using an ultra-fast burst of light from a laser. Science Daily reports: “The laser, called a femtosecond laser, produces pulses lasting only a few quadrillionths of a second—a femtosecond is to a second what a second is to about 32 million years.” It adds that this one burst unleashes as much power as the whole of North America’s electric grid delivers, but “focused onto a spot the size of a needlepoint”.

Science FTW! It’s days like this I wish I’d actually finished my undergraduate courses…

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One Response to “Nanoscale etchings make liquid flow uphill”

  1. Evil Rocks says:

    Fascinating, but the interesting link is actually this one: (I know, I know, it was in the middle of a paragraph and therefore invisible).

    And furthermore, this is the real sensawunda >blockquote<

    Guo is also announcing this month in Physical Review Letters a femtosecond laser processing technique that can create incandescent light bulbs that use half as much energy, yet produce the same amount of light. In 2006, Guo’s team used the femtosecond laser to create metal with nanostructures that reflected almost no light at all, and in 2008 the team was able to tune the creation of nanostructures to reflect certain wavelengths of light—in effect turning almost any metal into almost any color.

    amirite? Metals reflecting either no light or light of any wavelength the researchers want…that’s some futuristic/mic shit.