Engineering and Architecture
Universitat Rovira i Virgili
Nanoscience, Materials and Chemical Engineering
Electrostatic fields based printing of nano- and bio-structures
In this project we will develop methods for the printing of 1D, 2D and 3D nanostructures from liquids by means of electrostatic fields. A well-known example of a 2D non-electrostatics printing method is ink-jet printing. In our project however, the fragmentation of the liquid ink will be carried out to a much finer length scale thanks to the use of electrostatics. Electrostatic fields provide the driving force of our process. To make extremely small feature scales, one must overcome surface tension forces. This challenge can be overcome by means of electrical fields. The electrical charge accumulated on the air-liquid interface of the ink experiences a stress which counteracts the surface tension stress. A key additional advantage of the electrical field is its use for guiding the ink fragments to the desired deposition location on the substrate. The inks used can be any liquid or liquid suspension, even melts. The focus of this PhD project will be in developing a prototype "printer" for use with a variety of liquids ("inks"), and then develop the necessary experimental characterization and fluid-dynamics models in order to explain the fragmentation and transport processes of the ink. Another goal of the PhD project will be to apply this printing method to deposit micro- and nano-droplets, or continuous filaments for an application fields (e.g. heterogeneous catalysis, tissue engineering, pharmaceutics, sensors, photovoltaics, optics). In other words, the ink and the printer will be developed alongside to suit a particular purpose. Related phenomena of liquid fragmentation are electrospray and electrospinning. Another focus of this project is to devise microfluidic strategies for scaling up the process. We are particularly interested in applying these methods to the creation of biological and bioinspired materials (e.g. silk). Such 3D printed structures are particularly interesting with respect to biomaterials for use in regenerative medicine, a hot research topic. Here, the materials to be printed are liquid-like and include living cells and other "solutes" needed to create a living structure, such as an organ. A big challenge in this (nearly futuristic) field is to engineer robust methods to print various kinds of "bioinks" in order to create a complex living structure, and to do so with high spatial resolution. A more extensive description of the research topics we have been involved in can be found at: www.etseq.urv.cat/dew, and in the publications cited therein.
37.5 hours a week
|This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 713679|