PROPOSAL NUMBER: 0729250 / 0728860 PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Jason Heikenfeld / Philip Rack INSTITUTION: University of Cincinnati / University of Tennessee - Knoxville
PROPOSAL TITLE: Collaborative Research: Electrofluidic Carbon Nanofiber Arrays for Multi-Dimensional Separations
The objective of this collaborative proposal is to create a novel multiphase transport platform that provides new capabilities for multidimensional separations. The team will construct two-dimensional arrays of containment cells, each cell consisting of >10,000 closely spaced (10's-100's nm) electrofluidic carbon nanofibers (ECNFs). These vertically oriented ECNFs include a highly conformal hydrophobic dielectric coating. Cells of ~250x250-micrometer perimeter are electrically controlled by an underlying thin film transistor. The entire array is top-sealed and forms a ~10-micrometer high microfluidic channel. This creates a 2D array of highly active cells that can rapidly pump an aqueous phase and one or more immiscible phases. This approach is unique since all separation mechanisms are simultaneously active and switchable in each cell. Specific research aims include: (1) investigate 3-dimensional control of passive transport through a linear array of ECNF cells; (2) activate multiphase oil/water/particle pumping via integration with a thin-film Si transistor array; (3) validate that the platform can perform high-value separations in the dimensions of x-y location, size, mass, surface energy, and ionic charge. Leading scientific issues include: (a) providing the first knowledge of the tradeoff between dimensionality and peak capacity in a truly integrated system; (b) providing a new mechanism for understanding particle and multi-phase fluid flow at Debye (nano) scales; (c) making critical first steps towards highly active nanostructures that can mimic intracellular vesicle trafficking and active membrane transport.
This project will directly impact the fields of drug discovery, lab-scale separations, human-onchip sensors, and nanotechnology. The team has expertise in several areas: drug-discovery (NeoCytex Biopharma), membrane separations (NSF Center for Membrane Applied Science and Technology), and nanotechnology development (Luna Nanoworks Division). The team has already utilized their preliminary research in order to scientifically engage two groups of K-8 students. The team will continue to focus on critically important stimulation of minorities at the K-8 level and will broaden educational aims to include a unique undergraduate research exchange between Cincinnati and Tennessee.