Analysing thermophoretic transport of water for designing nanoscale-pumps

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Sathian, Sarith P.
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We propose a new design for thermally induced water pumping through carbon nanotubes by imposing a thermal gradient along the length of a carbon nanotube (CNT), which connects two water-filled reservoirs. We analyse the flow parameters by varying the imposed thermal gradient (4.62 to 20.98 K nm-1), the radius (0.81 to 1.89 nm) and the length (5 to 50 nm) of the CNT. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we compute the volumetric flow rate of the pump, velocity profiles of flow and thermophoretic forces acting on water molecules for various thermal gradients. The directed motion of water molecules is induced by the spatial variations of CNT-water energy interactions at the interface and the variations in the oscillation of the carbon atoms from hot to cold ends. The net flow and average velocity of water molecules are found to increase linearly with the applied thermal gradient, as well as with an increase in the radius and length of the CNT. We observe that nano-pumps with an increase in the radius and length of the CNT connecting the reservoirs perform better and also achieved higher efficiency levels. The analysis of the results indicates that the present design leads to a realistic system capable of providing continuous transportation of water leading to interesting practical applications in nanoscale devices.