PECASE: Electric field mediated transport in lab-on-a-chip and biophysical systems

Project Details




The long term career goal of the PI is to help transform quantitative transport modeling in both lab-on-a-chip and biophysical systems, focusing on electric-field mediated flow and transport processes in microfluidic and bio-electrolytic environments. Two interwoven research projects are pursued within a unified, electrohydrodynamic framework. The first investigates complex electrokinetic flow in on-chip sample preconcentration methods, providing both a generalized prediction capability and fundamental understanding for electrokinetic/electrohydrodynamic phenomena in microfluidic environments. The second studies electroporation-mediated molecular delivery, a technique in which the electric field permeabilizes the cellular membrane, and delivers active agents into the intracellular compartment. By combining modeling and experimental efforts, this project investigates the pertinence of electrokinetic transport in molecular delivery, and the possibility to improve electroporation via parametric optimization. The intellectual merit lies in a generalized model framework that will provide in-depth understanding of a wide range of fundamental phenomena, including multi-dimensional, multi-ion electromigration, the response of cellular membrane to the electric field and cross-membrane transport, among others. In particular, in the second project, the correlation of electroporation-mediated molecular delivery with an electrokinetic mechanism is new and a major innovation. This project will demonstrate that fundamental principles established in engineering contexts can be applied to study transport phenomena in biophysical systems. The broader impacts lie in the applications and the integrated educational efforts. The first project will provide guidelines for the design and optimization of high-performance on-chip assays, and significantly impact the development of microfluidic electrokinetic technologies. The second project contributes to the development of safe and efficient electroporation technology, for both biological research and clinical applications. This work will eventually benefit human health. The educational plans have three overarching themes: enhancing the integration of computational analysis into engineering curriculum, active recruitment of underrepresented minority students into engineering disciplines, and the creation of a true interdisciplinary training environment between Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering. These themes are implemented at the high-school, undergraduate, and graduate levels, and the results will be assessed when possible.

Effective start/end date7/1/086/30/14


  • National Science Foundation: $412,000.00


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