Jason, Matthew and I have had an article published in Physical Review Letters detailing our research in vibration-induced heating of water nanofilms. We were asked to provide a 200 word summary of the article, written in a manner accessible to the layperson. I found this to be a valuable exercise, as the required style of writing is completely different from that expected in a paper. I thought I’d post our final version here, as it may provide some value to future researchers within the group and elsewhere. For those interested, the actual paper is available at: https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.104502
Shaken, not sprayed: A new way of heating liquids using vibrations
If you vigorously shake a water droplet resting on a flat surface it can break up into a fine mist, similar to the liquid sprays from aerosol cans. However, we have shown, for the first time, that intense vibrations can also be used to boil water and other liquids. Using molecular simulations, we have demonstrated this effect in extremely thin liquid layers – some thousand times thinner than a human hair – resting on a vibrating surface. The vibrations also have to be very high frequency, around a million times quicker than the flapping of a hummingbird’s wings. Under these conditions the thin film of water boils, just due to the shaking – imagine a tiny vibrating kettle! This discovery could stimulate ideas for new nanotechnologies: vibrating nano-arrays may be able to prevent ice formation on airplane wings, cool the electronic circuits in our smartphones and laptops, and dry clothes quicker for lower electric bills. Thus, exploiting this new science of vibrations at the smallest scales could, literally, ‘shake things up’ in our everyday lives.