Self-Assembling Array of magnetoelectrostatic jets from the surface of a superparamagnetic ionic liquid

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© 2014 American Chemical Society. Electrospray is a versatile technology used, for example, to ionize biomolecules for mass spectrometry, create nanofibers and nanowires, and propel spacecraft in orbit. Traditionally, electrospray is achieved via microfabricated capillary needle electrodes that are used to create the fluid jets. Here we report on multiple parallel jetting instabilities realized through the application of simultaneous electric and magnetic fields to the surface of a superparamagnetic electrically conducting ionic liquid with no needle electrodes. The ionic liquid ferrofluid is synthesized by suspending magnetic nanoparticles in a room-temperature molten salt carrier liquid. Two ILFFs are reported: one based on ethylammonium nitrate (EAN) and the other based on EMIM-NTf2. The ILFFs display an electrical conductivity of 0.63 S/m and a relative magnetic permeability as high as 10. When coincident electric and magnetic fields are applied to these liquids, the result is a self-assembling array of emitters that are composed entirely of the colloidal fluid. An analysis of the magnetic surface stress induced on the ILFF shows that the electric field required for transition to spray can be reduced by as much as 4.5 × 107 V/m compared to purely electrostatic spray. Ferrofluid mode studies in nonuniform magnetic fields show that it is feasible to realize arrays with up to 16 emitters/mm2.

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