Microscopic Straws Suck Liquid Without Any Power

Researchers at MIT have discovered that when nanowires just billionths of a metre thick are inserted into liquids, they passively draw it upwards along its length without any outside power or suction. It's like the world's tiniest Dyson that you never have to plug in.

The phenomenon is commonly known as capillary action — where liquids naturally flow through narrow spaces. In this instance, it occurs on the outside of the nanowire. Using special equipment that provided the first detailed footage of this phenomenon in action, the researchers also found that the liquid would collect in areas where nanowires crossed, building up tiny reservoirs.

Once fully understood, this discovery could be used for microscopic medical machinery that won't be dependent on an outside power source, and — as boring as they might be — even better inkjet printers. [YouTube]

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