Controlled motion of electrically neutral microparticles by pulsed direct current

Zhang, Xinfang and Qin, Rongshan (2015). Controlled motion of electrically neutral microparticles by pulsed direct current. Scientific Reports, 5, article no. 10162.



A controlled motion of electrically neutral microparticles in a conductive liquid at high temperatures has not yet been realized under the uniform direct electric current field. We propose a simple method, which employs pulsed direct current to a conductive liquid metal containing low-conductivity objects at high temperature. The electric current enables the low-conductivity particles to pass from the centre towards the various surfaces of the high-conductivity liquid metal. Most interestingly, the directionality of microparticles can be controlled and their speed can be easily regulated by adjusting pulsed current density. We find that the movement may arise from the configuration of electrical domains which generates a driving force which exceeds the force of gravity and viscous friction. All of these features are of potential benefit in separating the particles of nearly equal density but distinctly different electrical conductivities, and also offer considerable promise for the precise and selective positioning of micro-objects or the controlled motion of minute quantities of surrounding fluids.

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