Closely related to the work in the core, biofluidic researchers work on projects focused on applying micro/nanofluidic principles toward biomedical diagnostic devices and understanding physiological and pathological phenomena. Ongoing projects include vascular and perivascular flows in the human brain, effects of shear stress and inflammation on cancer growth, and microfluidic devices for point-of-care diagnostics. Investigations are conducted through integrated experimental and computational approaches.


Paul Chiarot
Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Pong-Yu (Peter) Huang
Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Bruce Murray
Professor, Mechanical Engineering

For Thermal Fluidics

Tim Singler
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

For Microbial Culture Suite/Biofluidics

Peter Huang
Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering


ES B100; Biofluidics in B107


Cellular and Microbial Culturing Suite 

This suite of equipment provides the thermofluids group with the capability to culture human cells and microorganisms. The class II biosafety cabinet and refrigerated centrifuge provides a means to manipulate and condition cultured cells and microorganisms in controlled, sterile environments. The humidity-controlled incubator and orbital shaker incubator provide suitable environments for cell growth. The -80°C deep freezer and the cryopreservation freezer, on the other hand, provide proper long-term storage of collected cell strains under investigations. The suite will be particularly helpful as the thermofluids group increases research efforts into cancer and microorganisms in the micro- and nanofluidic applications.

Infrared Spectrometer

The Perkin Elmer Spectrum 100R Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer identifies types of chemical bonds of the phases that constitute synthesized materials, semiconductors and novel materials (liquid or solid). The infrared (IR) spectrum of a sample is recorded by passing a beam of IR light through the sample. Examination of the transmitted or reflected light reveals how much energy is absorbed at each wavelength. From a transmittance or absorbance spectrum produced, one can perform analysis of these absorption characteristics that reveals details about the molecular structure of the sample. This system also has accessories such as Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR), MCT detector, and various angles of spec reflectance accessories.

Intensified TIRF Microscope

This state-of-the-art imaging microscope system is the workhorse of experimental measurements in fluidic, colloidal, thermal, molecular and cellular research. The wide range of physical length scale (from mesoscale to molecular) and illumination means (Differential Interference Contrast, Total Internal Reflection, Multi-Color Fluorescence, Transillumination, Laser) provided by the microscope enables research in micro/nanofluidics, biofluidics, and biomolecule-fluidic interface interactions. In addition, the environment-controlled chamber enables prolonged measurements on temperature and humidity-sensitive specimens such as biological cells and molecules. A highly sensitive image intensifier is incorporated into the imaging arm of the microscope system to detect single photon events in the nanoscale. The whole imaging microscope is supported by a vibration-isolation optical table and housed in a dedicated darkroom inside the Transport Science Core to ensure best imaging quality.

Micro/Nano/Biofluidics Inspection Suite

This suite of equipment precisely characterizes the thermophysical properties of fluids and the interfacial properties of liquid-solid, liquid-liquid and liquid-gas interfaces. It builds on existing capabilities afforded by such instruments as the Bausch & Lomb optical refractometer, TA Instruments rheometer, and others. The Kruss K100MK2 process tensiometer measures the surface and interfacial tension of liquids (as functions of temperature and concentration), dynamic and static contact angles, liquid and solid densities and critical micelle concentrations. The Kruss KBP100 tensiometer is specifically designed to measure the dynamic surface tension as a function of the surface age and provides information about wetting and drop formation in short timescale processes. This instrument enables the determination of the adsorption and diffusion coefficients for a particular interface. The two tensiometers significantly enhance our capabilities to characterize the physicochemical properties of pure liquids, solutions and colloidal dispersions, capabilities that will positively impact our research efforts in the synthesis and deposition of functional materials, printed electronics, solar cells, microfluidic sensing and biofluidics, all of involve interfaces in a critical way.

Micro/Nanofluidic Interface Characterization Suite 

This suite of equipment precisely prepares fluidic, colloidal, molecular and cellular samples for high quality experimental investigations. A microcentrifuge, a temperature-controlled ultrasonic bath and a microfluidic mixer manipulate micro/nanoscale suspension and solutions through concentrating, diluting and mixing. In addition, special gas and humidity-controlled environment can be maintained inside a chemical glove box accessorized with a vacuum pump. An upright microscope equipped with a CCD camera is used to visually inspect and quantify fabricated micro/nanofluidic devices and the prepared samples on top of a vibration-isolation optical table.

Plasma Etcher

The Plasma surface treatment system is based on the PlasmaEtch Model RIE200 system which includes two gas connections (manipulated by an integrated Mass Flow Controller), a rectangular stainless steel chamber with hinged door, and a 13.56 MHz RF generator with reactive ions etching (RIE) configuration. The system is customized for use with corrosive gases.The low pressure plasma surface treatment system cleans, activates, etches and polymerizes surfaces of substrates.

For general cleaning applications, ion bombardment cleans surfaces physically and chemically by vaporizing surface contaminants. Plastic surfaces are activated by forming reactive radicals which lead to good adhesion between the activated surface and any subsequently coated layer. By using a reactive process gas, the generated plasma is able to etch and structure the treated surfaces. By introducing a single and/or multiple monomer gases into the vacuum chamber, the resulting plasma-induced polymerization is able to realize deposition of hydrophobic, hydrophilic and other functional diffusion barrier layers on treated sample surfaces.

Tube Furnace

This high-temperature tube furnace enables high-temperature processes up to 1800 C.

X-ray Diffractometer

The x-ray diffractometer (XRD) enables general purpose and routine material structure characterization using a position sensitive detector that offers high quality diffraction measurements at very high speeds.

Relevant research topics include nanotechnology, materials, functional organic materials, solar cell, biosensors and biomedical, MEMS, microfluidic devices and batteries.