Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Liquid


Just a bit of water enables one to turn a pile of dry sand into a spectacular sandcastle. Too much water however will destabilize the material, as is seen in landslides. Here we investigated the stability of wet sand columns to account for the maximum height of sandcastles. We find that the columns become unstable to elastic buckling under their own weight. This allows to account for the maximum height of the sand column; it is found to increase as the 2/3 power of the base radius of the column. Measuring the elastic modulus of the wet sand, we find that the optimum strength is achieved at a very low liquid volume fraction of about 1%. Knowing the modulus we can quantitatively account for the measured sandcastle heights.

Concepts: Volume, Liquid, Length, Earthquake engineering, Beach, Sand, Column, Buckling


It is widely considered that most organisms cannot survive prolonged exposure to temperatures below 0°C, primarily because of the damage caused by the water in cells as it freezes. However, some organisms are capable of surviving extreme variations in environmental conditions. In the case of temperature, the ability to survive subzero temperatures is referred to as cryobiosis. We show that the ozobranchid leech, Ozobranchus jantseanus, a parasite of freshwater turtles, has a surprisingly high tolerance to freezing and thawing. This finding is particularly interesting because the leach can survive these temperatures without any acclimation period or pretreatment. Specifically, the leech survived exposure to super-low temperatures by storage in liquid nitrogen (-196°C) for 24 hours, as well as long-term storage at temperatures as low as -90°C for up to 32 months. The leech was also capable of enduring repeated freeze-thaw cycles in the temperature range 20°C to -100°C and then back to 20°C. The results demonstrated that the novel cryotolerance mechanisms employed by O. jantseanus enable the leech to withstand a wider range of temperatures than those reported previously for cryobiotic organisms. We anticipate that the mechanism for the observed tolerance to freezing and thawing in O. jantseanus will prove useful for future studies of cryopreservation.

Concepts: Temperature, Thermodynamics, Solid, Liquid, Melting point, Freezing, Cryobiology, Cryopreservation


A water drop on a superhydrophobic surface that is pinned by wire loops can be reproducibly cut without formation of satellite droplets. Drops placed on low-density polyethylene surfaces and Teflon-coated glass slides were cut with superhydrophobic knives of low-density polyethylene and treated copper or zinc sheets, respectively. Distortion of drop shape by the superhydrophobic knife enables a clean break. The driving force for droplet formation arises from the lower surface free energy for two separate drops, and it is modeled as a 2-D system. An estimate of the free energy change serves to guide when droplets will form based on the variation of drop volume, loop spacing and knife depth. Combining the cutting process with an electrofocusing driving force could enable a reproducible biomolecular separation without troubling satellite drop formation.

Concepts: Energy, Liquid, Surface tension, Drop, Gibbs free energy, Rainbow, Liquids, Globule


Creating surfaces capable of resisting liquid-mediated adhesion is extremely difficult due to the strong capillary forces that exist between surfaces. Land snails use this to adhere to and traverse across almost any type of solid surface of any orientation (horizontal, vertical or inverted), texture (smooth, rough or granular) or wetting property (hydrophilic or hydrophobic) via a layer of mucus. However, the wetting properties that enable snails to generate strong temporary attachment and the effectiveness of this adhesive locomotion on modern super-slippy superhydrophobic surfaces are unclear. Here we report that snail adhesion overcomes a wide range of these microscale and nanoscale topographically structured non-stick surfaces. For the one surface which we found to be snail resistant, we show that the effect is correlated with the wetting response of the surface to a weak surfactant. Our results elucidate some critical wetting factors for the design of anti-adhesive and bio-adhesion resistant surfaces.

Concepts: Liquid, Wetting, Surface tension, Surface, Adhesion, Snail, Land snail


Conventional ways of making bio-electrodes are generally complicated, expensive and unconformable. Here we describe for the first time the method of applying Ga-based liquid metal ink as drawable electrocardiogram (ECG) electrodes. Such material owns unique merits in both liquid phase conformability and high electrical conductivity, which provides flexible ways for making electrical circuits on skin surface and a prospective substitution of conventional rigid printed circuit boards (PCBs).

Concepts: Electrical conductor, Electroencephalography, Liquid, Electrical conductivity, Electrical engineering, Printed circuit board, Breadboard, Electronic engineering


BACKGROUND: Microalgae have attracted major interest as a sustainable source for biodiesel production on commercial scale. This paper describes the screening of six microalgal species, Scenedesmus quadricauda, Scenedesmus acuminatus, Nannochloropsis sp., Anabaena sp., Chlorella sp. and Oscillatoria sp., isolated from fresh and marine water resources of southern Pakistan for biodiesel production and the GC-MS/MS analysis of their fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs). RESULTS: Growth rate, biomass productivity and oil content of each algal species have been investigated under autotrophic condition. Biodiesel was produced from algal oil by acid catalyzed transesterification reaction and resulting fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) content was analyzed by GC/MS. Fatty acid profiling of the biodiesel, obtained from various microalgal oils showed high content of C-16:0, C-18:0, cis-Delta9C-18:1, cis-Delta11C-18:1 (except Scenedesmus quadricauda) and 10-hydroxyoctadecanoic (except Scenedesmus acuminatus). Absolute amount of C-14:0, C-16:0 and C-18:0 by a validated GC-MS/MS method were found to be 1.5-1.7, 15.0-42.5 and 4.2-18.4 mg/g, respectively, in biodiesel obtained from various microalgal oils. Biodiesel was also characterized in terms of cetane number, kinematic viscosity, density and higher heating value and compared with the standard values. CONCLUSION: Six microalgae of local origin were screened for biodiesel production. A method for absolute quantification of three important saturated fatty acid methyl esters (C-14, C-16 and C-18) by gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS), using multiple reactions monitoring (MRM) mode, was employed for the identification and quantification of biodiesels obtained from various microalgal oils. The results suggested that locally found microalgae can be sustainably harvested for the production of biodiesel. This offers the tremendous economic opportunity for an energy-deficient nation.

Concepts: Fatty acid, Water, Fat, Liquid, Ester, Saturated fat, Biodiesel, Biodiesel production


Microactuation of free standing objects in fluids is currently dominated by the rotary propeller, giving rise to a range of potential applications in the military, aeronautic and biomedical fields. Previously, surface acoustic waves (SAWs) have been shown to be of increasing interest in the field of microfluidics, where the refraction of a SAW into a drop of fluid creates a convective flow, a phenomenon generally known as SAW streaming. We now show how SAWs, generated at microelectronic devices, can be used as an efficient method of propulsion actuated by localised fluid streaming. The direction of the force arising from such streaming is optimal when the devices are maintained at the Rayleigh angle. The technique provides propulsion without any moving parts, and, due to the inherent design of the SAW transducer, enables simple control of the direction of travel.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Fluid dynamics, Fluid mechanics, Liquid, Wave, Fluid, Field, Surface acoustic wave


Advancing and receding contact angles of water, formamide and diiodomethane were measured on 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) layers deposited on three different solid supports-glass, mica and poly(methyl methacrylate). Up to five statistical monolayers were deposited on the surfaces by spreading DPPC solution. It was found that even on five statistical DPPC monolayers, the hysteresis of a given liquid depends on the kind of solid support. Also on the same solid support the contact angle hysteresis is different for each probe liquid used. The AFM images show that the heights of roughness of the DPPC films cannot be the primary cause of the observed hysteresis because the heights are too small to cause the observed hystereses. It is believed that the hysteresis is due to the liquid film present right behind the three-phase solid surface/liquid drop/gas (vapour) contact line and the presence of Derjaguin pressure. The value of contact angle hysteresis depends on both the solid surface and liquid properties as well as on intermolecular interactions between them.

Concepts: Water, Liquid, Surface tension, Gas, Surface, Angle, Hysteresis, Contact angle


A modified smoothed particle hydrodynamic (MSPH) computational technique was utilized to simulate molten particle motion and infiltration speed on multi-scale analysis levels. The radial velocity and velocity gradient of molten alumina, iron infiltration in the TiC product and solidification rate, were predicted during centrifugal self-propagating high-temperature synthesis (SHS) simulation, which assisted the coating process by MSPH. The effects of particle size and temperature on infiltration and solidification of iron and alumina were mainly investigated. The obtained results were validated with experimental microstructure evidence. The simulation model successfully describes the magnitude of iron and alumina diffusion in a centrifugal thermite SHS and Ti + C hybrid reaction under centrifugal acceleration.

Concepts: Oxygen, Chemical reaction, Liquid, Acceleration, Velocity, Computational sociology, Chemical engineering, Reactive centrifugal force


An essential element in the web-trap architecture, the capture silk spun by ecribellate orb spiders consists of glue droplets sitting astride a silk filament. Mechanically this thread presents a mixed solid-liquid behavior unknown to date. Under extension, capture silk behaves as a particularly stretchy solid, owing to its molecular nanosprings, but it totally switches behavior in compression to now become liquid-like: It shrinks with no apparent limit while exerting a constant tension. Here, we unravel the physics underpinning the unique behavior of this “liquid wire” and demonstrate that its mechanical response originates in the shape-switching of the silk filament induced by buckling within the droplets. Learning from this natural example of geometry and mechanics, we manufactured programmable liquid wires that present previously unidentified pathways for the design of new hybrid solid-liquid materials.

Concepts: Calculus, Liquid, Surface tension, Arachnid, Spider silk, Spider, Wire, Mechanical