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Nanofluidics inside a single carbon nanotube (MICROMEGAS)
Start date: Jan 1, 2011, End date: Dec 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Nanofluidics is an emerging field aiming at the exploration of fluid transport at the smallest scales. Taking benefit of the specific properties of fluids in nanoconfinement should allow to challenge the limits of macroscopic continuum frameworks, with the ultimate aim of reaching the efficiency of biological fluidic systems, such as aquaporins. Carbon nanotubes have a decisive role to play in this quest, as suggested by the anomalously large permeabilities of macroscopic carbon nanotube membranes recently measured. This behavior is still not understood, but may be the signature of a ‘superlubricating’ behavior of water in these nanostructures, associated with a vanishing friction below a critical diameter, a result put forward by our preliminary theoretical results.To hallmark this grounbreaking behavior, it is crucial to go one step beyond and investigate experimentally the fluidic properties inside a single carbon nanotube: this is the aim of this proposal. To this end, the project will tackle two experimental challenges: the integration of a single nanotube in a larger nanofluidic plateform; and the characterization of its fluidic properties. To achieve these tasks, we propose a fully original route to integrate the nanotube in a hierarchical nano to macro fluidic device, as well as state-of-the-art methods to characterize fluid transport at the ‘zepto-litter’ scale, based on single molecule fluorescence techniques and ‘patch-clamp’ characterization. In parallel, experimental results will be rationalized using modelization and molecular dynamics. This project will not only provide a thorough fundamental understanding of the properties of carbon nanotubes as fluidic transporter, but also provide an exceptional nanofluidic plateform, allowing to explore the limits of classical (continuum) frameworks. It will also allow to envisage future potential applications, eg for desalination, separation, energy converter, jet printing, ..."

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