Collaborative Research: NSF-DFG: Confine: Sculpting Confined Fluids for Transport using Self-Organization and Information Transfer

Project: Research project

Project Details


The aim of this award is to create microfluidic platforms (micrometer-scale liquid channels) that harness energy released from chemical reactions and perform sustained mechanical work, ultimately enabling the development of portable fluidic devices with autonomous, biomimetic functionality. The (self-)regulation of fluid flow and transport across length scales in response to specific chemical signals is critical for realizing next generation smart micro- & nano-scale devices; it enables innovative alternatives to current microfluidic technology and establishes efficient and autonomous modes of chemical synthesis, sensing, and delivery. The findings from this award will have a transformative impact by uncovering the complex interplay among molecular-scale catalytic chemistry, chemical networks, and macroscopic transport in confined microfluidic geometries. Through collaborative training of the students, the work will contribute to the development of the next generation work force in scientific and engineering fields, which are ever increasingly requiring expertise across a range of disciplines.This award will examine the fundamental effects of molecular-scale chemistry on microscale flow of confined fluids, and, conversely, the effect of microscopic flow on chemical kinetics in microchambers. The collaborative team encompasses the unique and necessary skills to pursue this ambitious research, which will be performed through three complementary work packages, with findings from each work package revealing fundamental phenomena across different length and time scales. The first work package concentrates on multi-material 3D microprinting of microfluidic systems, the second targets active pumping mechanisms enabled by enzymes on surfaces and deformable posts. The third work package implements a superimposed self-organizing signal patterning process at the post arrays, arising from DNA strand displacement reaction networks. The latter reaction networks will then be coupled to active pumping by enzymes and sculpting of fluid flows. Through these studies, new modes of chemically induced motion and self-organization within confined fluids will be uncovered. Additionally, self-regulating materials that transmit chemical information to drive and control autonomous transport of micro- to macro-scale fluidic systems will be created. This award will advance knowledge and understanding across a range of different fields, from fundamental fluid mechanics and catalysis to chemical engineering and process design. Since flow and feedback are non-equilibrium processes, these studies will also provide new platforms for probing relationships among structure, dynamics, and non-equilibrium behavior.This project was awarded through the “Chemistry and Transport in Confined Spaces (NSF-DFG Confine)" opportunity, a collaborative solicitation that involves the National Science Foundation and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date11/1/2210/31/25


  • National Science Foundation: $225,000.00


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