By designing droplets using electricity, researchers have opened new possibilities in physics.
This technique could possibly be used for everything from extracting oil from wells to creating makeup and food.
You’ve seen Hollandaise sauce or mayonnaise that has separated, or that shiny layer of oil that forms on top of skin cream. This mixture of water and oil is called an emulsion, but it can be difficult to keep emulsions from separating. A special substance called an emulsifier is used to keep the mixture stable and prevent separation.
This is an ongoing problem for the food and medical industries, as well as for oil recovery. In fact, the petroleum industry also has to deal with the opposite problem, which is to separate oil that is pumped up from a well in a mix of water and gas.
Now, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have found a new method to control how drops of oil behave, using electricity. The results were published in late June in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.
The “pupil effect”
“We have conducted a very simple experiment to show that we can control particles on the surface of oil droplets using an electric field,” explains Jon Otto Fossum, a professor in the Department of Physics at the university.
The researchers used micrometre-sized particles of clay and silicone oil droplets for their experiment. First, the clay particles coated the droplet, but when the voltage was turned on, the clay particles made a ring around the drop. By controlling the strength of the electrical voltage, researchers can control how the particles accumulate in the ring, much like the way your eye controls how much the pupil opens in response to light.
The researchers were also able to control the emulsion’s properties with electricity. Its features can be turned on and off quickly, without adding new chemicals.
Food, medicine, and more oil?
The new method may possibly be useful in the production of foods, household products, and cosmetics, as well as in developing new ways to transport drugs in the body and for enhanced oil recovery. The “pupil effect” may possibly also be used as an optical element controlled by an electric voltage.
“It is also interesting that we have shown that we can use an electric voltage and environmentally friendly clay particles to control droplets, which means that we might be able to design these kinds of emulsions without adding chemicals. This could be important for applications where you want to avoid introducing foreign chemicals into the environment, such as in the oil industry,” says Fossum.
The Latest Bing News on:
- Chicago area researchers engineering better masks with improved design and safetyon October 12, 2020 at 8:26 pm
LEMONT, Ill. — They’re known for big science – super computers and sequencing proteins. But at the same time, scientists at Argonne National Laboratory simply want to make better masks.
- Sub-second heat inactivation of coronaviruson October 12, 2020 at 6:57 pm
Three coronaviruses (CoVs) have caused global outbreaks within the past 20 years, and with the COVID19 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) still ongoing, ...
- EV Company Arriving in US Marketon October 12, 2020 at 12:03 pm
Arrival announces plans for first US manufacturing facility including a $46 million investment and 240 new jobs.
- Do Face Shields Really Protect Against the Coronavirus?on October 7, 2020 at 10:57 am
It's all too clear why someone might want to wear a face shield instead of a face mask. Breathing is easier, shields don't cause the maskne or ear discomfort, and with a clear face shield, people can ...
- ZShield Flex Wins Fast Company's Innovation by Design Awardon October 7, 2020 at 5:13 am
Fast Company has named the ZShield Flex a 2020 Innovation by Design Awards winner. The innovative face shield, designed and produced ...
- Time Spent Talking, Not Just Physical Distance, Plays Role In Covid-19 Spread Researchers Sayon October 5, 2020 at 6:05 am
By assessing the physics of how saliva droplets form and spray while a person speaks, researchers have shown the words we say play a role in how many droplets we spread — and how far they go.
- Face masks with 'anti-viral' power against coronavirus pioneered by Bristol designeron October 3, 2020 at 10:00 am
Wearing a face mask was a peculiar prospect for most people in the Western world as coronavirus first infiltrated our lives. When COVID-19 was first identified in China, people wearing masks in the ...
- A Tiffany Necklace That Transcends Timeon October 2, 2020 at 8:21 am
The diamonds perched atop Elsa Peretti’s fluid gold mesh collar, which the house recently reimagined, resemble droplets of dew.
- Masks can block coronavirus-carrying dropletson September 29, 2020 at 4:20 am
Droplets entering through nose A University ... "These are also the droplet sizes that we need to make sure our new respirator design captures." In addition, this data will be useful in developing ...
- Face shields not effective at blocking respiratory droplets, wear cloth masks insteadon September 23, 2020 at 4:58 am
But it could block droplets larger than 50 micrometres ... using a good quality cloth or surgical masks that are of a plain design, instead of face shields and masks equipped with exhale valves ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
The Latest Bing News on:
- Why was it news that scientists finally confirmed airborne transmission of coronavirus?on October 13, 2020 at 2:17 pm
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidance on the novel coronavirus, adding airborne transmission to the list of ways it’s ...
- Digital Ocean Enters PaaS With App Platformon October 13, 2020 at 1:17 pm
Specifically targeted at developers, Digital Ocean App Platform aims to make application development a matter of point-and-click. This new offering fills the gap between Digital Ocean Droplets and ...
- No, masks don’t collect the coronavirus | PolitiFacton October 13, 2020 at 12:01 pm
Scientific studies have consistently found that face-mask use is one of the most effective means of preventing the transmission of COVID-19.
- Teen With COVID-19 Infected 11 Relatives From IL, 3 Other Stateson October 13, 2020 at 10:23 am
Experts now believe the coronavirus is airborne, and tiny droplets containing the virus can linger indoors for hours as aerosols.
- Masks don't collect the coronaviruson October 13, 2020 at 9:45 am
A highlighted row shows that 70.6% of these people who tested positive for the virus reported that they "always" wore masks or cloth face mask coverings. "This is really REALLY BIG," the post reads.
- Study: Anti-virus face shields allow almost all minute droplets to leakon October 12, 2020 at 3:00 pm
Researchers have bad news for people who wear face shields to prevent novel coronavirus infections: The equipment is woefully inadequate in containing droplets that can spread the virus. And they have ...
- Neck gaiters DO work, study finds: Popular face coverings previously ruled 'counterproductive' blocked '100%' of large infectious droplets in new testson October 9, 2020 at 10:36 am
In their experiments using manikins, masks and spray bottles, the Virginia Tech team found that gaiters blocked fine and larger particles from escaping about equally well as cloth masks.
- Covid-19 is airborne, disease control experts confirm in updated guidanceon October 6, 2020 at 12:56 am
The Centres for Disease Control said airborne transmission is possible after ... The capacity of Covid-19 to spread through miniscule droplets, which float in the air long after an infected person ...
- COVID-19 could spread by airborne transmission: US Centers for Disease Control and Preventionon October 6, 2020 at 12:16 am
The US CDC said some people could get infected by exposure to the novel coronavirus in small droplets and particles, or aerosols, that can linger in the air for minutes to hours.
- Covid-19 could spread by airborne transmission: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionon October 5, 2020 at 9:48 pm
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an updated guidance on Monday said COVID-19 can spread through airborne transmission, a month after it took down a similar warning.