DFG Priority Program SPP 1164

Nano- & Microfluidics:

Bridging the Gap between
Molecular Motion and Continuum Flow

Description of the Priority Program 

Extract of Application
Coordination Team

Questions  ?

Contact Karin Jacobs !

Nano- und Microfluidics: Bridging the Gap between Molecular Motion and Continuum Flow

During the last decade, micro- and nano-technology has become an important industry. This development has been assisted by a funding policy supporting the design of miniaturized mechanical structures and complex micro-machines through which fluids move. To date, however, little attention has been paid to the actual transport of fluids in these confined geometries, even though the fluid flow on increasingly smaller scales cannot always be properly described by conventional continuum equations: physical phenomena which can be neglected on the macro scale become dominant as the length scale diminishes. On the other hand, systems on scales on which micro effects become sensible cannot yet be treated by molecular methods, owing to the lack of computational power. Hence, there is a definite need for novel theories, numerical methods, and measurement techniques devised to properly describe the confined fluid flow on length scales in the range from 10 and 1000 nm.

This priority program is aimed at bridging the gap between molecular motion and continuum flow by an interdisciplinary effort. Basic research proposals are invited from physics, engineering, chemistry, biology and medical technology. Interdisciplinary projects are particularly encouraged.

Priority will be given to the following topics.
  • How do solid walls or deformable boundaries influence the motion of liquids on small scales? 
  • How are soft objects (e.g. cells) affected by the flow around them, and how do they influence the fluid motion in a confined geometry?
  • How are transport processes modified in the vicinity of a liquid/gas interface?
  • What is the length-scale limit up to which intrinsic micro mechanisms are operative?
  • How can micro- and nano-flows of liquids be driven and controlled by external means?
The main goal of this priority program is the investigation of collective transport phenomena on the micro- and nano-scale. The anticipated results should give a significant boost to the advancement of micro- and nano-fluid technologies.

Dedicated geometries and components required for experiments are not part of this priority program and should be provided by partner institutes. Likewise, pure preparation techniques as well as pure technology developments will not be supported. Other areas beyond the scope of the present program are
  • pure gas flows,
  • flows in micro systems which can savely be described by classical continuum theory, i.e. by the Navier-Stokes equations, and
  • the dynamics of individual atoms and molecules, except for the interaction between very large molecules, such as DNA, and the liquid flow.
Experimental, theoretical, and numerical investigations are welcome alike and should complement each other.