Research Papers

Fabrication and Experimental Characterization of Nanochannels

[+] Author and Article Information
Vinh-Nguyen Phan

Nam-Trung Nguyen1

Chun Yang

 Division of Thermal and Fluids Engineering,School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nayang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798

Pierre Joseph, Anne-Marie Gué

 CNRS, LAAS, 7 Avenue du Colonel Roche, F-31077 Toulouse, France; Université de Toulouse, UPS, INSA, INP, ISAE, LAAS, F-31077 Toulouse, France


Corresponding author.

J. Heat Transfer 134(5), 051012 (Apr 13, 2012) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4005702 History: Received April 25, 2010; Revised November 14, 2010; Published April 11, 2012; Online April 13, 2012

Nanofluidics is the science and technology involving a fluid flowing in or around structures with a least one dimension in the nanoscale, which is defined as the range from 1 nm to 100 nm. In this paper, we present the fabrication and characterization of nanochannels in silicon and glass. Since the lateral dimension of the channels is limited by the wavelength of UV light used in photolithography, the channel width can only be fabricated in the micrometer scale. However, the depth of the channel can be controlled precisely by the etching rate of reactive ion etching (RIE). Microchannels and access holes were etched with deep reactive ion etching (DRIE). Both nanochannels and microchannels were sealed by a Pyrex glass wafer using anodic bonding. The fabricated nanochannels were characterized by capillary filling and evaporation experiments. Due to the small channel height and weak fluorescent signal, fluorescent techniques are not suitable for the characterization of the nanochannels. A long exposure time is needed because of the limited amount of fluorescent molecules inhibit the measurement of transient and dynamic processes. However, as the channel height is shorter than all visible wavelengths, the contrast in refractive indices of air and liquid allows clear visualization of nanochannels filled with liquids. Automatic image processing with matlab allows the evaluation of capillary filling in nanochannels. Interesting phenomena and discrepancies with conventional theories were observed.

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Fabrication steps of a planar nanochannel in silicon and glass

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Figure 2

Fabricated device: (a) nanochannel array with a microchannel at the inlet; (b) details of the etch of the microchannel

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Figure 3

Nanochannel after bonding: (a) filled nanochannels with different widths; (b) filled nanochannels with the same width; (c) good closed-end nanochannels with 10 μm width; (d) collapsed nanochannels with 20 μm

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Figure 4

Experimental setup for (a) capillary filling experiment and (b) drying experiment

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Figure 5

Square of filling length versus time for (a) isopropanol (σ = 20.9 mN/m; μ = 2.00 × 10−3 Pa s at 27 °C) and (b) DI water (σ = 72.0 mN/m; μ = 0.89 × 10−3 Pas at 27 °C)

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Figure 6

Experimental measured drying lengths and theoretical prediction with different values of p0




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