Research Project Title:
Modular Droplet Factory
abstract:Microfluidic systems are growing in use and popularity in medical, biological, and materials science contexts. The current lithography-based manufacturing processes are time consuming and difficult, but required to make the small, sub-mm features needed. Taking advantage of improved "fast prototyping" manufacturing tools, we have developed a 3D-printed droplet generation system within the printable dimensions of a Form 2 printer that creates small (~1 mm), regular droplets. This was enabled by identifying a droplet generation process that requires precision along only one axis (step-emulsification), and for which the use of the 3D geometry provides greater size regularity than typical 2D, lithography-based droplet-generation geometries. We hope to develop this further to make even smaller droplets. We have also developed a brick to improve flow control that can be paired with the droplet generator or other microfluidic units in a modular design. This effort makes the process of making education and research-grade microfluidic devices more accessible and amenable to future 3D design iteration.
I was interested in SuperUROPing because I knew I wanted to focus on a research problem for my thesis, and I hoped the program would give me the structure and support to convey my research effectively. I'm very happy with my progress and have loved the experience so far!