Liquid-solid Interaction Measures Improved

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 27 (UPI) — U.S.-led scientists say they’ve created a technique that produces unprecedented precision in measuring liquid-solid interactions.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers explained a liquid’s “wettability” — the degree to which it either spreads over a surface or forms into droplets — is crucial to a wide variety of processes. However, the only way to quantify such liquid-solid interaction characteristic has been to measure the shapes of droplets that form on a material.

But now MIT researchers say they’ve found a way to improve the resolution of such measurements by a factor of 10,000 or more. In addition, they said the new method can be used to study curved, textured or complex solid surfaces — something that could not be done previously.

“This is something that was unthinkable before,” said Associate Professor Francesco Stellacci, who led the study. “It allows us to make a map of the wetting,” that is, a detailed view of exactly how the liquid interacts with a surface down to the level of individual molecules or atoms.

Stellacci said the ability to obtain such detailed images is important for the study of such processes as catalysis, corrosion and the internal functioning of batteries and fuel cells, along with many biological processes such as interactions between proteins.

The research that included postdoctoral fellow Kislon Voitchovsky and colleagues in England and Italy appears in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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