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A few unassuming drops of liquid locked in a very precise game of “follow the leader” could one day be found in mobile phone cameras, medical imaging equipment, implantable drug delivery devices, and even implantable eye lenses. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute embedded drops of ferrofluid, a liquid infused with magnetic nanoparticles, into a thin substrate that was submerged in water. Then they exposed the device to a magnetic field to make one of the droplets vibrate back and forth (up or down in the image above), which caused its partner to oscillate in a mirror pattern. This ballet displaces teeny amounts of liquid, moving it from one chamber to another, according to Amir H. Hirsa, a mechanical engineering professor at Rensselaer. The piston is superfast, allowing micro-scale devices with cycling speeds in the kilohertz range. These liquid pistons are highly tunable, scalable, and — because they lack any solid moving parts — suffer no wear and tear. The research team, led by Rensselaer Professor Amir H. Hirsa, is confident this new discovery can be exploited to create a host of new devices ranging from micro displacement pumps and liquid switches, to adaptive lenses and advanced drug delivery systems. For more information please visit: http://news.rpi.edu/update.do


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