Microfluidics: A tool to shape materials


Event details

Date and time 23.03.2015 13:1514:15  
Place and room
Speaker Prof. Esther Amstad, Soft Materials Laboratory, EPFL
Category Conferences - Seminars
Microfluidics offers a unique control over the fluid flow and enables the formation of highly monodisperse drops. These drops can be used as templates to produce monodisperse particles with sizes spanning more than four orders of magnitude. I will present a microfluidic spray drier, a nebulizer, that produces very small, air-born drops that rapidly evaporate. These minuscule drops enable the production of amorphous nanoparticles made from almost any material including those with a very high propensity to crystallize. By contrast, much larger drops are often used as templates to produce polymeric microparticles and microcapsules. I will present one example where I used double emulsion drops as templates to produce thermo- and photo-responsive polymersomes. However, the limited throughput achieved with typical microfluidic drop makers restricts the application of microfluidics in material science; this is especially the case if particles are used as building blocks of macroscopic materials. In the last part of my talk, I will present a highly parallelized microfluidic drop maker, a centipede device, that produces monodisperse emulsion drops with sizes ranging from 20 µm to 200 µm at a throughput more than 100 times higher than that of a conventional microfluidic drop maker. This device thus has the potential to make microfluidic technologies useful for a much broader range of material science applications.

Amstad, E.; Kim, S.-H.; Weitz, D. A. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2012, 12499-12503
Utada, A. S.; Chu, L. Y.; Fernandez-Nieves, A.; Link, D. R.; Holtze, C.; Weitz, D. A. Mrs Bulletin 2007, 32 (9), 702-708.
Datta, S. S.; Abbaspourrad, A.; Amstad, E.; Fan, J.; Kim, S.-H.; Romanowsky, M.; Shum, H. C.; Sun, B.; Utada, A. S.; Windbergs, M.; Zhou, S.; Weitz, D. A. Advanced Materials 2014.

Bio: Esther Amstad studied material science at ETH in Zurich where she also carried out her PhD thesis under the supervision of Prof. Marcus Textor (2007-2010). Her thesis was devoted to the steric stabilization of iron oxide nanoparticles. As a Postdoctoral fellow, she joined the experimental soft condensed matter group of David A. Weitz at Harvard University (2011-2014). She developed new microfluidic devices, studied early stages of the crystallization of nanoparticles, and assembled microcapsules for triggered release. Since June 2014, she heads the Soft Materials Laboratory (SMAL) at EPFL as a tenure tracked assistant professor.

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


  • Fabien Sorin


  • Fabien Sorin

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