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Lauren Admire | 22 Mar 2010 21:00
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Make Water Flow Uphill With Lasers

Water flows downhill, that's just a fact. It flows downhill because gravity forces it to, and to make water do anything but go downhill requires energy and work. Unless you're made of silicon. Apparently, water likes silicon so darn much that it throws all the rules out the window and will travel up its surface without any persuasive force.

Using an ultra-powerful laser, researchers at University of Rochester have cut tiny but incredibly precise grooves into a silicon chip, and water can climb up its surface as if it were being sucked up by a straw. Somehow, the patterns cut into the chip are so attractive to water molecules that they will break their strong bonds with other water molecules and even climb over one another in order to be closer to the silicon.

Now, this may seem like free energy, but it's not. When it costs zero energy to move water to a higher level, it raises the level of potential (and thus potentially "free") energy that can be harnessed when water flows back down. However, because the bonds that hold water to silicon are at a lower energy level that the ones holding water molecules to other water molecules, no free energy is produced.

The laser incisions are so tiny and precise that if you run your finger over the silicon chip, it still feels smooth and undamaged. This development hints at exciting future applications for computing. "Heat is definitely the number one problem deterring the design of faster conventional processors," explains Michael Scott a professor of computer science. Liquid coolants have been used to keep motherboards from overheating, but they're often a risky and expensive method. If this technology could be harnessed, computers could forego the bulky, noisy fans and take liquid cooling to the next level.

Source: Eureka Alert

Thanks, megalomania

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