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Researchers accidently create 'water-oozing' nanorods having large range of real-world applications
Researchers’ experiment didn't go as planned, resulting into the formation of nanorods by chance, they closely analyzed the microscopic, unplanned spawns of science. Using a vapor analysis instrument, Chemist Satish Nune was scrutinizing the solid, carbon-rich nanorods, and he noticed that the nanorods strangely lost weight with the rise in humidity.
Nune and his colleagues thought that the instrument had malfunctioned, and shifted their attention to another tool, a high-powered microscope.
They were surprised on seeing a strange fluid appear between bunches of the small sticks unexpectedly and ooze out. They were able to capture a shaky video under the microscope because they moved the view finder quickly to record the surprising event again.
The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory team went on seeing the same phenomenon over a dozen times. Just after releasing the fluid, the weight of the nanorods reduced by nearly half, leaving the researchers in a puzzled state.
A paper recently published in Nature Nanotechnology has explained the physical processes responsible for the spectacle, which is the first ever experimental viewing of an occurrence theorized more than two decades back.
The finding may result into a huge range of real-world applications, such as low-energy water harvesting and purification for the developing world, and fabric with the ability to pull sweat away from the body automatically, releasing it as a vapor.
PNNL post-doctoral research associate David Lao, who manufactured the material, explained, “Our unusual material behaves a bit like sponge; it wrings itself out halfway before it's fully saturated with water. Now that we've gotten over initial shock of unforeseen behavior, we're imagining many ways it could be harnessed to improve quality of our lives”.
Nune, the other corresponding author of the paper, mentioned that prior to putting the nanorods to good use, they have to manage and perfect their size and shape.