NJIT Researchers Examine Dynamics of Liquid Metal Particles at Nanoscale

NJIT New Jersey Institute of Technology
NEWARK, Aug. 27, 2013—

Two NJIT researchers have demonstrated that using a continuum-based approach, they can explain the dynamics of liquid metal particles on a substrate of a nanoscale.  “Numerical simulation of ejected molten metal nanoparticles liquified by laser irradiation: Interplay of geometry and dewetting,” appeared in Physical Review Letters (July 16, 2013) 

The evolution of fluid drops deposited on solid substrates has been a focus of large research effort for decades, said co-author Shahriar Afkhami, an assistant professor in the NJIT Department of Mathematical Sciences.  This effort has become particularly extensive on the nanoscale, due to the relevance of nanostructures in a variety of fields, ranging from DNA sequencing to plasmonics and nanomagnetism.  And the research also applies to liquid crystal displays and solar panel designs.”

In this work, Afkhami with NJIT Professor Lou Kondic, also in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, studied the liquid metal nanostructures placed on solid substrates.  The study is of direct relevance to self- and directed-assembly of metal nanoparticles on surfaces. For example, the size and distribution of metallic particles strongly affects the yield of solar cell devices, Afkhami said.

In this work, however, the researchers demonstrate that using a continuum-based
approach is appropriate on the nanoscale, where the basic assumptions of continuum fluid mechanics are pushed to the limits.  The pair’s research is the first attempt to utilize state-of-the-art simulations based on continuum fluid mechanics to explain the dynamics of liquid
metal particles on a substrate on the nanoscale.

“We demonstrated that continuum simulations provide a good qualitative agreement with
atomistic simulations on the length scales in the range of 1-10 nm and with the physical experiments length scales measured in the range of 100 nanometers,” added Kondic.

Kondic is involved in the mathematical modeling and simulating of granular materials, as well as in development of numerical methods for highly nonlinear partial differential equations related to the flows of thin liquid films.  In 2005, Kondic received a Fulbright Foundation grant and traveled to Argentina to study the dynamics of non-Newtonian liquid films involving contact lines.  He currently leads four federally funded projects totaling more than $800,000.

Afkhami uses computational and mathematical modeling to help researchers better understand a range of real-life engineering phenomena.  His work includes examining biomedical systems, polymers, plastics, microfluidics and nano-materials.  His research looks for the existence of solutions and issues involving fluid flows from stability to asymptotic behavior.

Afkhami’s current research project is to numerically discover a better way to understand the dynamics of mixtures of fluids.  The effort will tie into his new three-year NSF $252,000 grant (2013-16) to develop a state-of-the-art computational framework for polymeric liquids.  The fruits of this labor will eventually have a broad effect in complex applications, such as how blood and other bodily fluids flow in microfluidic devices as well as finding better ways to improve the flow of emulsions when blending or processing polymers.
NJIT, New Jersey’s science and technology university, enrolls more than 10,000  students pursuing bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 120 programs. The university consists of six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, College of Architecture and Design, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, College of Computing Sciences and Albert Dorman Honors College. U.S. News & World Report’s 2012 Annual Guide to America’s Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities. NJIT is internationally recognized for being at the edge in knowledge in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning. Many courses and certificate programs, as well as graduate degrees, are available online through the Division of Continuing Professional Education.

Contact: Sheryl Weinstein, director, public relations, Sheryl.m.weinstein@njit.edu, 973-596-3436.

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