Scientists have found that ultra-fast vibrations can heat tiny amounts of liquid.
The new study, carried out by a team of researchers at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, has found that tiny amounts of liquid can be heated by ultra-fast vibrations. The study used computer simulations to test ‘the vibration-induced heating of nanoscale-thick water layers on a metal substrate’.
How does it work?
The team used the ARCHER UK National Supercomputing Service to test the simulations, and the study has since been published in the Physical Review Letters journal. The ultra-fast vibrations can bring liquid to the boil. This is the because the vibrating surface under the liquid is controverted to heat as liquid molecules move and collide with each other.
It is only possible to do this with tiny amounts of liquid which are one thousand times thinner than a human hair. When the vibrations are applied to larger volumes, this produces a small amount of heat as well as tiny waves and bubbles in the liquid.
How could this benefit future innovations?
Although this method of heating up liquid can only be used for this a tiny amount of liquid, the vibrations can be a million times faster than the flapping of a hummingbird’s wings.Dr Rohit Pillai, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, led the study. Pillai said: “Exploiting this new science of vibrations at the smallest scales could literally shake things up in our everyday lives. The advent of nanotechnology means that this discovery can underpin novel engineering devices of the future.”
The discovery has several potential applications in engineering. The study found that: ‘The results find broad application to systems involving drying, coatings, and sprays.’
Potential areas for innovation include:
• Preventing ice build-up on wind turbines and aeroplanes
• Enhancing cooling systems in smartphones and laptops
• Creating more energy-efficient appliances which dry clothes quicker