Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Glass-blowers at a nano scale

Date:
March 25, 2013
Source:
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Summary:
Very much like a glass-blower, researchers have managed to shape the exit hole of a glass capillary and finely control its diameter between 200 nanometers and zero.

A few of these commercial pre-shrunk nano-capillaries have had their end diameter reduced to a few nanometers, from an original 200 nm, thanks to an electron microscope at EPFL's Center for MicroNanotechnology.
Credit: Alain Herzog / EPFL

EPFL researchers are using the electrical properties of a scanning electron microscope to change the size of glass capillary tubes -- Their method has already been patented as it could pave the way to many novel applications.

Related Articles


Have you ever thrown into the fire -- even if you shouldn't have -- an empty packet of crisps? The outcome is striking: the plastic shrivels and bends into itself, until it turns into a small crumpled and blackened ball. This phenomenon is explained by the tendency of materials to pick up their original features in the presence of the right stimulus. Hence, this usually happens when heating materials that were originally shaped at high temperatures and cooled afterwards.

EPFL researchers realized that this phenomenon occurred to ultrathin quartz tubes (capillary tubes) under the beam of a scanning electron microscope. "This is not the original microscope's purpose. The temperature increase is explained by an accumulation of electrons in the glass. Electrons accumulate because glass is a non-conductive material." explains Lorentz Steinbock, researcher at the Laboratory of Nanoscale Biology and co-author of a paper on this subject published in Nano Letters.

As the glass shrinks, it can be seen live on the microscope screen. "It's like a glass-blower. Thanks to the possibilities provided by the new microscope at EPFL's Center of Micronanotechnology (MIC), the operator can adjust the microscope's voltage and electric field strength while observing the tube's reaction. Thus, the person operating the microscope can very precisely control the shape he wants to give to the glass," says Aleksandra Radenovic, tenure-track assistant professor in charge of the laboratory.

At the end of this process, the capillary tube's ends are perfectly controllable in diameter, ranging from 200 nanometers to fully closed. The scientists tested their slimmed down tubes in an experiment aiming to detect DNA segments in a sample. The test sample was moved from one container to another on a microfluidic chip. Whenever a molecule crossed the "channel" connecting the containers, the variation of the ion current was measured. As expected, the EPFL team obtained more accurate results with a tube reduced to the size of 11 nm than with standard market models. "By using a capillary tube costing only a few cents, in five minutes we are able to make a device that can replace "nano-channels" sold for hundreds of dollars!" explains Aleksandra Radenovic.

These nano-fillers have a potential beyond laboratory usage. "We can imagine industrial applications in ultra-high precision printers, as well as opportunities in surgery, where micro-pipettes of this type could be used at a cell's scale," says the researcher.

For the time being, the method for manufacturing nano-capillary tubes is manual, the transition to an industrial scale will take some time. However, the researchers have been able to demonstrate the concept behind their discovery and have registered a patent. Therefore, the road is already paved.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. J. Steinbock, J. F. Steinbock, A. Radenovic. Controllable Shrinking and Shaping of Glass Nanocapillaries under Electron Irradiation. Nano Letters, 2013; 130318124758001 DOI: 10.1021/nl400304y

Cite This Page:

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Glass-blowers at a nano scale." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325111156.htm>.
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. (2013, March 25). Glass-blowers at a nano scale. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325111156.htm
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Glass-blowers at a nano scale." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325111156.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
British 'Bio-Bus' Is Powered By Human Waste

British 'Bio-Bus' Is Powered By Human Waste

Buzz60 (Nov. 21, 2014) — British company GENeco debuted what its calling the Bio-Bus, a bus fueled entirely by biomethane gas produced from food scraps and sewage. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins