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Liquid Building Blocks: The New Frontier in Reconfigurable Multiphase Liquid Devices

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Ethan Sulliva
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Liquid Building Blocks: The New Frontier in Reconfigurable Multiphase Liquid Devices

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The recent advancement in the field of liquid devices has unlocked an innovative strategy for constructing reconfigurable multiphase liquid devices with intricate geometries and compositions. The strategy, inspired by modular construction toys, utilizes liquid building blocks, allowing for the creation of versatile and flexible liquid devices.

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Building Liquid Units with Pillared Substrate and Laplace Pressure

In a bid to create and stabilize liquid units, scientists have employed the use of a pillared substrate and the Laplace pressure from a curved liquid surface. The pillared substrate is typically printed with acrylate epoxy resin, a material known for its excellent mechanical properties, thermal stability, and resistance to chemical attack. The creation of specific structures like a water channel is heavily reliant on the surface energy of this substrate material. This approach allows for the construction of 2D and 3D liquid devices with diverse geometries and compositions, and well-designed liquid-liquid interface arrangements.

Reconfigurable Multiphase Liquid Devices

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The beauty of these liquid building blocks lies in their reconfigurability. They can be connected, cut, and alternated within a matter of minutes, integrating multiple experimental steps into one device. This method provides versatility in creating liquid units with various properties and enables the construction of microreactors for cascade chemical reactions and multiphase liquid devices for battery applications.

Integration of Droplet Networks

Another innovative approach in this field involves the use of cucurbit 8 uril surfactants at the oil-water interface to prepare droplet networks. These networks are multi-responsive, reconfigurable, and internally connected over macroscopic distances. They offer a platform for chemical reactions and material synthesis and require only manual compression to construct complex patterns. The stability of the droplet network shape is directly linked to the strength of the interfacial CB 8 surfactant assembly.

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Chemical Micromotors at Oil-Water Interface

Interestingly, it has been found that chemical micromotors move significantly faster at an oil-water interface than on a glass substrate. The speed increases are likely caused by faster chemical reactions at the oil-water interface, but the exact mechanism remains unknown. This discovery provides valuable insights into the interactions between chemical micromotors and their environments, which are important for applications in the human body or in the removal of organic pollutants from water.

Fluid-filled Elastomeric Lenses Using DEAs

Finally, the operation principle of two fluid-filled elastomeric lenses using Dielectric Elastomer Actuators (DEAs) is worth mentioning. These include a bioinspired lens and a transparent DEA lens. These lenses further demonstrate the versatility and potential of liquid building block devices.

In conclusion, the liquid building blocks strategy marks a significant step in the advancement of fluidic devices, microreactors, and multiphase liquid batteries. With its reconfigurable characteristic and the ability to construct complex geometric and compositional devices, it holds great promise for future applications in various fields.

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