Scientists create a form of liquid that moves on a flat surface with no external force

Agamoni Ghosh
Droplets of water

Any matter in its liquid form can only move from one point to the other on a sloping surface or if there is an external force applied. But now, a group of scientists claim to have created a new form of liquid that can move along a flat surface with no external force.

Researchers from Brandeis University in Massachusetts say the new kind of liquid – that is in early development – requires neither a slope nor a push as it relies on a squirming skeleton of microscopic fibres to move in a direction.

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The scientists add that they studied the biomechanical properties of microtubules that could be applied to a mixture to make it move in a single direction around a stagnant container. Majority of complex cells contain a network of microtubule fibres collectively called a cytoskeleton that give the cell its shape and transport material around as they twist, bend and stretch accordingly.

To create this liquid the scientists used the microtubules found inside the nerves of a cow's brain. By adding a few more ingredients they managed to turn a watery mixture of cow microtubules into molecular motors.

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How can it help in future?

"From a technology perspective, self-pumping active fluids set the stage for the engineering of soft self-organized machines that directly transform chemical energy into mechanical work," say the researchers.

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For now the mechanism is at a very early stage to be put into application, but gives significant insight on how moving fluids inside our own cells work.

The full paper on the research has been published in the journal Science.

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