Research ArticlePHYSICS

Topological liquid diode

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Science Advances  27 Oct 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 10, eaao3530
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao3530

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The last two decades have witnessed an explosion of interest in the field of droplet-based microfluidics for their multifarious applications. Despite rapid innovations in strategies to generate small-scale liquid transport on these devices, the speed of motion is usually slow, the transport distance is limited, and the flow direction is not well controlled because of unwanted pinning of contact lines by defects on the surface. We report a new method of microscopic liquid transport based on a unique topological structure. This method breaks the contact line pinning through efficient conversion of excess surface energy to kinetic energy at the advancing edge of the droplet while simultaneously arresting the reverse motion of the droplet via strong pinning. This results in a novel topological fluid diode that allows for a rapid, directional, and long-distance transport of virtually any kind of liquid without the need for an external energy input.

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