Capillarity at the nanoscale

J.W. van Honschoten, N. Brunets, Niels Roelof Tas

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    In this critical review we treat the phenomenon of capillarity in nanoscopic confinement, based on application of the Young-Laplace equation. In classical capillarity the curvature of the meniscus is determined by the confining geometry and the macroscopic contact angle. We show that in narrow confinement the influence of the disjoining pressure and the related wetting films have to be considered as they may significantly change the meniscus curvature. Nanochannel based static and dynamic capillarity experiments are reviewed. A typical effect of nanoscale confinement is the appearance of capillarity induced negative pressure. Special attention is paid to elasto-capillarity and electro-capillarity. The presence of electric fields leads to an extra stress term to be added in the Young-Laplace equation. A typical example is the formation of the Taylor cone, essential in the theory of electrospray. Measurements of the filling kinetics of nanochannels with water and aqueous salt solutions are discussed. These experiments can be used to characterize viscosity and apparent viscosity effects of water in nanoscopic confinement. In the final section we show four examples of appearances of capillarity in engineering and in nature (112 references).
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)1096-1114
    Number of pages19
    JournalChemical Society reviews
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2010


    • EWI-17665
    • METIS-270758
    • IR-70326

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