The field of nano- and microfluidics emerged at the end of the 1990s parallel to the demand for smaller and smaller containers and channels for chemical, biochemical and medical applications such as blood and DNS analysis [1], gene sequencing or proteomics [2, 3]. Since then, new journals and conferences have been launched and meanwhile, about two decades later, a variety of microfluidic applications are on the market. Briefly, 'the small flow becomes mainstream' [4]. Nevertheless, research in nano- and microfluidics is more than downsizing the spatial dimensions. For liquids on the nanoscale, surface and interface phenomena grow in importance and may even dominate the behavior in some systems. The studies collected in this special issue all concentrate on these type of systems and were part ot the priority programme SPP1164 'Nano- and Microfluidics' of the German Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). The priority programme was initiated in 2002 by Hendrik Kuhlmann and myself and was launched in 2004. Friction between a moving liquid and a solid wall may, for instance, play an important role so that the usual assumption of a no-slip boundary condition is no longer valid. Likewise, the dynamic deformations of soft objects like polymers, vesicles or capsules in flow arise from the subtle interplay between the (visco-)elasticity of the object and the viscous stresses in the surrounding fluid and, potentially, the presence of structures confining the flow like channels. Consequently, new theories were developed ( see articles in this issue by Munch and Wagner, Falk and Mecke, Bonthuis et al, Finken et al, Almenar and Rauscher, Straube) and experiments were set up to unambiguously demonstrate deviations from bulk, or 'macro', behavior (see articles in this issue by Wolff et al, Vinogradova and Belyaev, Hahn et al, Seemann et al, Gruner and Huber, Muller-Buschbaum et al, Gutsche et al, Braunmuller et al, Laube et al, Brucker, Nottebrock et al, Uhlmann et al and articles to be published in a later issue by Baumchen and Jacobs, Walz et al). Moreover, simulations accounted for these new phenomena (see articles in this issue by Leonforte et al, Hyvaaluoma et al, Varnik et al, Chelakkot et al, Litvinov et al and the article to be published in a later issue by Boettcher et al), since commercial software packages typically override these special yet fundamentally new conditions. For future applications, the know-how can be used, for instance, to manipulate particles or molecules in microfluidic systems (see articles in this issue by Nottebrock et al, Straube, Uhlmann et al and the article to be published in a later issue by Boettcher et al). The articles have been divided into four subsections: 'Probing the boundary condition', 'Flow over or in special geometries', 'Soft objects in fluid flow' and 'Manipulating flow'. Many articles, however, cover more than only one aspect and could easily be listed under one of the other subsections. Three articles, two listed in the section 'Probing the boundary condition' and one listed in 'Manipulating flow', could not be included and will be published in a later issue (Baumchen and Jacobs, Walz et al, Boettcher et al). The collection of studies gives a comprehensive overview of what has been achieved to 'bridge the gap between molecular motion and continuum flow', which was the mission of the programme and which will now form a sound platform for continuative studies. References [1] Bowtell D D 1999 Nature Genet. 21 25 [2] Lion N et al 2003 Electrophoresis 24 3533 [3] Weston A D and Hood L 2004 J. Proteome Res. 3 179 [4] Li D 2004 Microfluidics Nanofluidics 1 1 Nano- and microfluidics contents Impact of slippage on the morphology and stability of a dewetting rim Andreas Munch and Barbara Wagner Nanoscale discontinuities at the boundary of flowing liquids: a look into structure Max Wolff, Philipp Gutfreund, Adrian Ruhm, Bulent Akgun and Hartmut Zabel Capillary waves of compressible fluids Kerstin Falk and Klaus Mecke Wetting, roughness and flow boundary conditions Olga I Vinogradova and Aleksey V Belyaev Molecular transport and flow past hard and soft surfaces: computer simulation of model systems F Leonforte, J Servantie, C Pastorino, and M Muller Simulations of slip flow on nanobubble-laden surfaces J Hyvaluoma, C Kunert and J Harting Electrophoretic transport of biomolecules across liquid–liquid interfaces Thomas Hahn, Gotz Munchow and Steffen Hardt Wetting morphologies and their transitions in grooved substrates Ralf Seemann, Martin Brinkmann, Stephan Herminghaus, Krishnacharya Khare, Bruce M Law, Sean McBride, Konstantina Kostourou, Evgeny Gurevich, Stefan Bommer, Carsten Herrmann and Dominik Michler Imbibition in mesoporous silica: rheological concepts and experiments on water and a liquid crystal Simon Gruener, and Patrick Huber Theory and simulations of water flow through carbon nanotubes: prospects and pitfalls Douwe Jan Bonthuis, Klaus F Rinne, Kerstin Falk, C Nadir Kaplan, Dominik Horinek, A Nihat Berker, Lyderic Bocquet, and Roland R Netz Structure and flow of droplets on solid surfaces P Muller-Buschbaum, D Magerl, R Hengstler, J-F Moulin, V Korstgens, A Diethert, J Perlich, S V Roth, M Burghammer, C Riekel, M Gross, F Varnik, P Uhlmann, M Stamm, J M Feldkamp and C G Schroer Stability and dynamics of droplets on patterned substrates: insights from experiments and lattice Boltzmann simulations F Varnik, M Gross, N Moradi, G Zikos, P Uhlmann, P Muller-Buschbaum, D Magerl, D Raabe, I Steinbach and M Stamm Micro-capsules in shear flow R Finken, S Kessler and U Seifert Micro-rheology on (polymer-grafted) colloids using optical tweezers C Gutsche, M M Elmahdy, K Kegler, I Semenov, T Stangner, O Otto, O Ueberschar, U F Keyser, M Krueger, M Rauscher, R Weeber, J Harting, Y W Kim, V Lobaskin, R R Netz, and F Kremer Dynamics of colloids in confined geometries L Almenar and M Rauscher Dynamics of red blood cells and vesicles in microchannels of oscillating width S Braunmuller, L Schmid and T Franke Semiflexible polymer conformation, distribution and migration in microcapillary flows Raghunath Chelakkot, Roland G Winkler and Gerhard Gompper Numerical simulation of tethered DNA in shear flow S Litvinov, X Y Hu and N A Adams Analysis of the fluctuations of a single-tethered, quantum-dot labeled DNA molecule in shear flow K Laube, K Gunther and M Mertig Interaction of flexible surface hairs with near-wall turbulence Ch Brucker Development of a shear stress sensor to analyse the influence of polymers on the turbulent wall shear stress Bernardo Nottebrock, Sebastian Grose and Wolfgang Schroder Small-scale particle advection, manipulation and mixing: beyond the hydrodynamic scale Arthur V Straube Microfluidic emulsion separation—simultaneous separation and sensing by multilayer nanofilm structures P Uhlmann, F Varnik, P Truman, G Zikos, J-F Moulin, P Muller-Buschbaum and M Stamm Filtration at the microfluidic level: enrichment of nanoparticles by tunable filters M Boettcher, S Schmidt, A Latz, M S Jaeger, M Stuke and C Duschl Nanoscale structures and dynamics of a boundary liquid layer M Walz, S Gerth, P Falus, M Klimczak, T H Metzger and A Magerl

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