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Professor Theodorian Borca-Tasciuc
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Theodorian Borca-Tasciuc,
professor of mechanical engineering.
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Strengthening Fluids With Nanoparticles

Researchers have demonstrated that liquids embedded with nanoparticles show enhanced performance and stability when exposed to electric fields. The finding could lead to new types of miniature camera lenses, cell phone displays, and other microscale fluidic devices.

“This study may open up a new vista for using nanofluids in microscale and nanoscale actuator device applications,” said Theodorian Borca-Tasciuc, professor of mechanical engineering.

The manipulation of small volumes of liquid is critical for fluidic digital display devices, optical devices, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) such as lab-on-chip analysis systems. Most research into such systems has been conducted with regular liquids, but not nanofluids, which are liquids embedded with different nanoparticles.

The ability to easily change the contact angle of droplets of nanofluids has potential applications for efficiently moving liquids in microsystems, creating new methods of focusing lenses in miniature cameras, or cooling computer chips.

Borca-Tasciuc said his investigations into nanofluids are driven by sheer curiosity, and fostered by a strong interdisciplinary collaboration with Rensselaer Materials Science and Engineering Professor Ganapathiraman Ramanath.

“At first, we were curious to see what would happen if we introduced charged nanostructures — such as the ones we synthesize for exploring new cooling strategies in nanodevices — to the process of liquid wetting. But what started as a single, one-off experiment has now mushroomed into an exciting new research topic and expanded the scope of our collaboration,” Ramanath says.

The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation through the Interconnect Focus Center.

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