Nanoporous artificial proboscis for probing minute amount of liquids
We describe a method of fabrication of nanoporous flexible probes which work as artificial proboscises. The challenge of making probes with fast absorption rates and good retention capacity was addressed theoretically and experimentally. This work shows that the probe should possess two levels of pore hierarchy: nanopores are needed to enhance the capillary action and micrometer pores are required to speed up fluid transport. The model of controlled fluid absorption was verified in experiments. We also demonstrated that the artificial proboscises can be remotely controlled by electric or magnetic fields. Using an artificial proboscis, one can approach a drop of hazardous liquid, absorb it and safely deliver it to an analytical device. With these materials, the paradigm of a stationary microfluidic platform can be shifted to the flexible structures that would allow one to pack multiple microfluidic sensors into a single fiber.