Multiwall carbon nanotubes show potential for use in various micro- and nanofluidic devices, since they resemble cylindrical channels used in the macroscopic world. However, in situ experimental studies of fluid behavior in nanotubes or nanochannels have been rare. In this work, transmission electron microscopy experiments are performed on closed-end multiwall carbon nanotubes filled with an aqueous multiphase fluid. The nanotubes form an experimental apparatus that is a few orders of magnitude smaller than the smallest channels used in other fluidic experiments. These nanotubes are synthesized hydrothermally, using Ni as a catalyst, and they contain segregated aqueous liquid and gas inclusions with clearly defined interfaces. Using electron irradiation, the multiphase fluid inside individual nanotubes is excited thermally, by expanding and contracting the electron beam. The excellent wettability of the graphitic inner tube walls by the aqueous fluid and the mobility of this liquid in the nanotubes are observed in real time with nanometer-scale resolution. Interface dynamic phenomena are visualized, as driven by thermocapillary forces as well as by evaporation and condensation. The hydrothermal nanotubes examined herein offer a promising platform for studying the behavior of multicomponent, multiphase fluids in nanosize channels at high-pressure conditions. The phenomena documented in this study demonstrate the potential of implementing such tubes in future nanofluidic devices.

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