Pumping of fluids confined to nanometer dimension spaces is a technically challenging yet vitally important technological application with far reaching consequences for lab-on-a-chip devices, biomimetic nanoscale reactors, nanoscale filtration devices and the like. All current pumping mechanisms require some sort of direct intrusion into the nanofluidic system, and involve mechanical or electronic components. In this paper, we present the first nonequilibrium molecular dynamics results to demonstrate that non-intrusive electropumping of liquid water on the nanoscale can be performed by subtly exploiting the coupling of spin angular momentum to linear streaming momentum. A spatially uniform rotating electric field is applied to water molecules, which couples to their permanent electric dipole moments. The resulting molecular rotational momentum is converted into linear streaming momentum of the fluid. By selectively tuning the degree of hydrophobicity of the solid walls one can generate a net unidirectional flow. Our results for the linear streaming and angular velocities of the confined water are in general agreement with the extended hydrodynamical theory for this process, though also suggest refinements to the theory are required. These numerical experiments confirm that this new concept for pumping of polar nanofluids can be employed under laboratory conditions, opening up significant new technological possibilities.
Journal of Chemical Physics, 2013, Vol 138, Issue 15