Microfluidics, Novel Materials, Biomimetics
Our research program concerns complex fluids and the processing of these fascinating materials to create morphologies and structures that can find application in the nanotechnology, biotechnology, microelectronics, and energy related materials. Whether they are liquid crystals, polymeric liquids, surfactants and vesicles, or suspensions, this important class of soft material is characterized by intermolecular/particle forces that give rise to time and length scale distributions that are easily accessed by processing flows. Consequently, external processing forces can create a host of nano-morphologies and bulk properties that are central to their end-use applications.
Within this broad area, our laboratory takes advantage of the coupling of complex fluid microstructures with the spatial confinement that is possible by using microfluidic flow methods, to offer novel solutions in the nanomaterials, biosensor and biomaterial areas. This interdisciplinary program is well-funded through government and industry grants. Our work has also attracted collaborations across and outside the university with joint research being conducted with bioengineers, biologists, plant biologists, medical school faculty, and materials scientists.The successes of this research program have been acknowledged by a Fulbright Scholar Award, NSF CAREER Award, a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, and recognition in the research community through numerous invited lectures.
Previously, we have worked on granular flows, geophysical fluid dynamics, non-Newtonian fluid mechanics of polymers, rheology of polymers and surfactant solutions, biomimetics of plants, microfluidic flows of polymers and liquid crystals, and compressed-air energy storage, all within the context of flow dynamics of complex fluids. Our recent research projects have focused on microfluidics assisted synthesis of nanomaterials and biomaterials for biotechnology and energy applications.