Controlling flow direction in nanochannels by electric field strength

Xiang Gao, Tianshou Zhao, Zhigang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Molecular dynamics simulations are conducted to study the flow behavior of CsF solutions in nanochannels under external electric fields E. It is found that the channel surface energy greatly affects the flow behavior. In channels of high surface energy, water molecules, on average, move in the same direction as that of the electric field regardless of the strength of E. In low surface energy channels, however, water transports in the opposite direction to the electric field at weak E and the flow direction is changed when E becomes sufficiently large. The direction change of water flow is attributed to the coupled effects of different water-ion interactions, inhomogeneous water viscosity, and ion distribution changes caused by the electric field. The flow direction change observed in this work may be employed for flow control in complex micro- or nanofluidic systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023017
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 17 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


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