Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. 16-18th July 2012

In the scientific literature, the keyword “nano-fluidics” appeared for the first time in 1998. A massive publication record started in 2001, and since then ca. 1500 papers have been published that use this term. The goal of this ICREA Symposium is to integrate this burgeoning, interdisciplinary field of research with more mature scientific communities in colloid and membrane science, in order to catalyze new scientific advances and collaborations.


It is slowly becoming appreciated that many “nano-fluidic” phenomena were discovered and extensively studied earlier in colloid and membrane science, albeit motivated by different applications and without the benefit of current experimental capabilities.  For example, electrokinetic and coagulation phenomena, which are central to colloid science, are controlled by body forces that act at distances of several nanometers from charged interfaces. Current-induced concentration-polarization (sometimes considered a “signature” of nano-fluidics as opposed to micro-fluidics) is well known in membrane science and is a physico-chemical basis of electrodialysis. The selective distribution and permeation of ions of different charges are basic phenomena in ion exchange and electrodialysis. A bipolar membrane is, in fact, a nanofluidic diode, and so on.

On the other hand, the field of nanofluidics has also demonstrated some new phenomena and applications, especially in non-equilibrium confined systems. For example, electro-osmotic flows have been used to drive chaotic fluid mixing in microfluidic devices, and propagating “shocks” of concentration polarization in nanochannels have been observed.

Novel molecular-scale effects have also been demonstrated, e.g. related to particle transport in carbon nanotubes. Perhaps most importantly, the emergence of nanofluidics has opened the possibility of observing and controlling transport phenomena with unprecedented precision, down to the nanometer scale. As a result, classical theories of ion transport and surface interactions can now be systematically tested and improved.

The Symposium seeks to provide nanofluidic researchers with inspiration from colloid/membrane science, as well as keywords, author names, and references to the classical literature. Conversely, the Symposium will expose colloid and membrane scientists to recent advances in nanofluidics, in the hope of encouraging their contributions and showing new opportunities for experiments and applications of which they could only dream in years past.

Thus, bringing together members of nanofluidic and colloid/membrane research communities will promote a very beneficial two-way information exchange. These are some examples of topics to be addressed.


  • concentration polarization vs. space charge
  • flow instabilities under non-linear conditions
  • micro-nano interfaces
  • applicability of quasi-macroscopic approaches at nano-scale




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