A Caltech Library Service

Small-Scale Liquid-State Dynamics in Nanometer Size Devices


Barsic, David Nicholas (2004) Small-Scale Liquid-State Dynamics in Nanometer Size Devices. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/BWJB-7K61.


This dissertation will present research on state-of-the-art micrometer- and nanometer-scale machining techniques to fabricate fluid channels with integral sensing electrodes. The motivation for this project is to create new instruments for investigating the behavior and properties of particles or molecules in solution and confined in a fluid channel with cross-sectional dimensions ranging from less than 50 nanometers to one micron.

The objective of this research is to develop techniques for building fluid analysis systems which combine fluid channels with sensing electrodes. Design of physical devices and the measurement circuit are both important steps in accomplishing this task. The design issues necessary for optimizing these aspects are investigated in detail. The size scale of these systems is at the lower limit achievable with current technology. Such devices require critical dimensions of less than 100 nanometers in order to perform measurements on small-scale fluid systems. Applications of this type of system include detection of both the presence and the motion of particles and molecules suspended in the small volume of fluid confined within the fluid channel. The motion of particles in the fluid channel is detected by measuring the change in electrode capacitance as particles move past the electrodes. Typical fluid volumes used in this type of system range from 50 femtoliters to less than one femtoliter.

Accomplishing this task required a careful look at the machining techniques for making microscopic devices. The approach is to use lithographic and circuit manufacturing techniques to make small fluid channels on either side of which are sets of electrodes. Existing techniques for making small-scale devices were modified to provide the required performance. In some cases the development of entirely new techniques was necessary.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Nanofabrication; Nanofluidics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Electrical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Scherer, Axel
Thesis Committee:
  • Scherer, Axel (chair)
  • Mabuchi, Hideo
  • Bellan, Paul Murray
  • George, Thomas
  • Tai, Yu-Chong
Defense Date:10 December 2003
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-12122003-110405
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:4959
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:12 May 2004
Last Modified:03 Feb 2021 18:48

Thesis Files

PDF - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page