Fluids & Transport Phenomena Lab

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Selected Research Projects

Multiphase Flow Dynamics and Evaporation Kinetics of Energetic Nanofuels

Nanofuels are fuels containing energetic nanoparticles. The development of nanofuels has potential impacts on petroleum engineering, clean energy, and various chemical and material processing technologies. Combustion using nanofuels has the advantages of shorter ignition delay time, higher energy density, higher evaporation rate, and higher fuel oxidation rate compared with traditional liquid fuels. This project focuses on theoretical and experimental analysis of complicated evaporation kinetics of particle-in-fuel dispersions.

Sponsor: ACS Petroleum Research Fund

Collaborator: Li Qiao


Molecular Crowding and the Role of Mobility in Antibody Aggregation



Molecular crowing plays an important role in transport-limited biochemical reaction and the stability of protein solutions. This work focuses on theoretical computation and scaling estimation of nanoparticle motion and retardation in molecular crowded solutions. For the application of pharmaceuticals, we aim at quantitative analysis of protein aggregation dynamics in monoclonal antibody solutions. Theoretical and computational models focus on protein mobility and protein-protein interactions. Models are validated by light scattering and ultrasonic rheometry experiments. The goal is to enhance the stability of concentrated and antibody-based pharmaceuticals.

Sponsors:  NSF, UCONN Foundation

Collaborators: Remco Tuinier, Takashi Taniguchi, Devendra S. Kalonia

Single-Step Manufacture of Affinity Nanodisks for Drug Delivery

The goal is to create stable and bio-functional nanodisk carriers capable of delivering large amount of hydrophobic drugs. The disk-shape lipid systems are generated by a single-step self-assembly process. The key components are phospholipids and aptamers for spontaneous formation, drug encapsulation, and specific targeting. The theoretical part of this project focuses on basic understanding of disk formation, disk interaction, coalescence, and the diffusion- and/or reaction-limited growth kinetics. The material structure and dynamic behaviors are analyzed by small-angle neutron scattering and dynamic light scattering.

Sponsor: NSF

Collaborators: Mu-Ping Nieh (PI), Yong Wang



Hydrogel Functionalization and Sustained Protein Release


Sustained protein release can be regulated by aptamer-modified hydrogel by tuning the aptamer-protein binding kinetics. Understanding hydrogel properties and reaction/transport mechanisms involved in the release process is the key to optimize the protein loading density and the release rate. This project provides a platform for developing new and multiple drug release mechanisms based on tunable reaction-controlled kinetics. 

Sponsor: NSF

Collaborator: Yong Wang


New Concepts in Fluidics and Cellular Mechanics for Controlled Microinjection


Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a well-accepted method to introduce sperm into an oocyte for in-vitro fertilization. The procedure consists of micropipette penetration through the oocyte’s zona pellucida and oolemma, followed by the delivery of sperm into the cell mass. To increase the success rate, this project seeks to develop an optimal control protocol to trigger membrane piercing based on theoretical analysis of dynamic fluid-pipette-membrane interactions. The mechanistic understanding of the process and the development of new technique for measuring membrane physical properties also have potential impacts on biomedical applications such as transgenic cloning, cryopreservation, and pronucleus DNA delivery.

Sponsor: NSF

Collaborator: Nejat Olgac

Quantitative Analysis of Molecular Transport and Population Kinetics of Stem Cell Cultivation in a Microfluidic System


The greatest advantage of using a microculture system is the ability to regulate and assess local culture conditions. We developed a perfusion-based miniature culture system to sustain the growth of mouse embryonic stem cells. The optimal perfusion rate was found to balance the nutrient renewal and waste removal while ensuring the presence of cell secreted factors.

Sponsor: Connecticut Department of Public Health

Collaborators: Joanne Conover, Xudong Yao