Purdue University Northwest’s Engineering Distinguished Speaker Series returned for its second season and opened with a splash on Friday, September 7, 2018, as Dr. Jie Xu, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois – Chicago, delivered a presentation on small-scale fluid and particle flow and control, “Microfluidic Manipulation Using Sound Waves: A Sound Idea?”
Xu heads the Microfluidics Laboratory at UIC, at which the overall research focus is on exploring micro/interfacial interactions (fluids, bubbles/microbubbles, particles/structures), and the overall application focus is on developing and testing micro- and nanofluidic systems that may be applied broadly to such areas as energy, engineering, health, and environment. More specific research foci include design of microfluidic devices (e.g., piezoelectric sensors and instruments) for bioanalysis, biomedicine, and element transport.
Extensive collaboration among UIC Microfluidics Lab researchers from different departments, and “melding” of expertise for problem-solving, has also resulted in an array of interwoven projects funded by an equally diverse group of sponsors, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Among the project examples Xu explored in his presentation were:
- Advances in the development of miniaturized “labs-on-a-chip,” through which reactions can be monitored and much data gathered at minimal materials costs and with greater efficiency in terms of storage, analysis, and energy/system maintenance
- Use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in the design and development of microfluidic devices/flow channels for the study of noise-induced damage to zebrafish hair cells—applicable to research in human hearing loss from death of similar sensory hair cells
- Use of acoustic actuation (sound waves) to create a microbubble “flow-switch” by which microstream flows can be controlled; applications include on-chip particle transport and potential drug/chemical delivery systems
Employing mnemonics as unique as the research array he presented, Xu suggested that attendees remember aspects of his presentation by thinking of … Fish & Chips.
Xu received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University in 2010, accepted a position at UIC in 2014, was named a Faculty Fellow in the Honors College at UIC in 2015, and was the recipient of a 2017 NASA Early Career Faculty Award.