On phonons and water flow enhancement in carbon nanotubes

The intriguing physics of water transport through carbon nanotubes (CNTs) has motivated numerous studies, reporting flow rates higher than those estimated by continuum models. The quantification of water transport in CNTs remains unresolved, however, with flow rates reported by different experiments and simulations having discrepancies of over three orders of magnitude. Employing a combination of computationally intensive molecular dynamics and continuum fluid dynamics simulations together with analytical fluctuating hydrodynamics calculations, researchers at the Department of Molecular Modeling have, with  collaborators from the ETH Zurich, re-examined the effects of the CNT phonons on water  transport through CNTs. They find that phonon CNT-oscillations induce a constant-frequency oscillation of water velocity, consistent with the previously published results. However, the new results show only a small effect of phonon modes on water flow rates. In fact, the researchers estimate an order-of-magnitude lower water diffusion enhancement that is also independent of phonon modes.

Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/nnano.2017.234

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