New way to control fluid particle motion may lead to nano-scale drug delivery systems

March 18th, 2008 - 2:12 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 18 (ANI): Chemical engineers at The University of Texas at Austin, including an Indian origin doctoral student, have come up with a novel way to control the motion of fluid particles through tiny channels, something that may give rise to miniaturized “lab-on-a-chip” medical applications.

The researchers say that their work may make way for micro and nano-scale technologies like miniaturized drug delivery devices and chemical and biological sensors.

The basis of this significant development is the knowledge that particle motion is strongly linked to how the particles arrange themselves in a channel, which the researchers gained while working on a research project.

Particle arrangements are determined by the interactions of the particles with their boundaries. Thus, we were able to use these interactions as a means for controlling how readily the fluid will self-mix, diffuse, and flow, said Dr. Thomas Truskett, associate professor of chemical engineering at the university.

The researchers, including Ph.D. students Gaurav Goel and William Krekelberg, carried out this work in collabroation with Dr. Jeffrey Errington of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Dr. Truskett says that the principle that the motion of cars on highways or children through hallways proceeds smoothly if lanes of traffic are formed also applies to he motion of fluid particles in narrow channels.

Computer simulations developed by his team show that fluid particles move past one another more easily if they first form “layers” aligned with the boundaries of the channels.

In a paper describing his research, Dr. Truskett reveals that his team has also ntroduced a way to systematically determine which types of channel boundaries will promote or frustrate the formation of the layers necessary for faster particle transport.

Dr. Truskett says that, if layering leads to faster particle dynamics, it is natural to ask why bulk fluids adopt a more disordered structure with no layering.

The reason: thermodynamics determines the structure of a fluid, not dynamics - and thermodynamics favors a disordered state for bulk fluids because it lowers the system’s free energy, he said.

His team found that confining a fluid to small length scales helped tune the thermodynamically-favored state to coincide with one that has layering and fast particle dynamics.

The paper describing Dr. Trusketts research appears in the journal Physical Review Letters. (ANI)

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