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Synchronous Electrorotation of Nanowires in Fluid

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posted on 12.04.2006 by Brian Edwards, Theresa S. Mayer, Rustom B. Bhiladvala
We demonstrate electrorotation of metal nanowires phase-locked to a driving alternating current electric field. Field rotation was accomplished by a low-frequency signal that modulates the amplitude of the high-frequency field. Steady, synchronous rotation of the nanowires was observed for frequencies up to a maximum rotational frequency, which depends on the magnitude of the applied electric field. A locally two-dimensional nanowire fluid flow model was developed to calculate the viscous fluid drag torque, including drag contributions due to the proximity of the floor. Synchronicity and phase-lock angle predicted by equating the calculated fluid drag and electrical driving torques is in good agreement with experimentally determined values, which provides support for the model. Synchronous electrorotation allows for precise control of nanowire rotational speed and orientation for frequencies as low as a fraction of 1 Hz. Potential applications include reconfigurable polarization filters, microfluidic valves, and stirring devices.