Engineering the Relationship Between Fluid Structure and Transport Under Nanoconfinement

Gerald Wang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Photo of Gerald Wang

Traditional continuum fluid mechanics can be mouthwatering, but the non-continuum effects that occur in fluids at the molecular scale are downright delicious. At the nanoscale, fluids in the vicinity of a solid boundary frequently arrange in layered structures, reminiscent of a layered cake, that are considerably denser than fluids far from the boundary. In this work, we will present several results on computational and physical modeling of fluid-solid interfaces, and on the impact of the interface on transport under nanoconfinement. First, using a combination of statistical physics and molecular simulation, we will demonstrate how one can bake these layered structures using a variety of thermodynamic control knobs (including, of course, the temperature). Confection in hand, we will then proceed to slicing it; in particular, we will explore the layer-by-layer contributions to anomalous mass and momentum transport phenomena under nanoconfinement. Along the way, we will introduce several appetizing analytical findings including the Wall number, a dimensionless group that controls the degree of fluid layering at a solid interface. Finally, we will discuss the practical applications of this work on designing and optimizing nanofluidic devices. Don't take our word for it, but the engineering implications are pretty sweet.

Abstract Author(s): Gerald J. Wang