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Smart Materials and Surfaces

This group develops leading functional and structural materials and fabrication strategies, including the assembly of complex nano and micro-constructed soft material systems and their nanocomposites.  

Super-slurp and Super-slippery Surfaces 

Wetting and dewetting are fundamental ways that liquids move on solid surfaces. They are vital for processes such as drying, coating and lubrication. Research into the process of dewetting has helped improved the flow of liquid in pipes and textured surfaces. The development of slippery liquid infused porous surfaces is being used to develop medical diagnostic applications in partnership with QuantumDx as a way of improving liquid transport for diagnostic devices.  

Manipulating Droplets or Liquid Films 

This group developed the “Leidenfrost engine” – a sublimation heat engine which can convert temperature differences into mechanical work via the Leidenfrost effect. This offers new ways of controlling and creating leidenfrost turbine surfaces. This research focuses on exploiting extreme environmental conditions found in, for example, deep drilling and outer space, to harness vaporisation of liquids and ice at high temperature differences. Achieving droplet control during evaporation has application in a broad range of fields such as printing, heat transfer and cleaning.  

Production of Responsive and Multi-phase Engineering Materials  

This group is researching the use of microfluidic channels to develop microgel systems and surface acoustic waves to develop bio and wearable sensors. This is being developed through two industry partnerships, one for the diagnosis of infectious disease and the other for monitoring patient drug levels.  

Key projects

Dynamic Dewetting: Designing and Breaking Novel Morphologies of Liquid Films

This project used electric-field induced film formation to study non-naturally occurring droplet shapes on film. The ability to finely control liquid droplets on film has industrial applications such as printing and displays.  

Lubricating Channel and Tube Flows - Fluid Sheathing using Textured Walls  

Many of our day-to-day activities rely on liquids being transported through tubes or pipes. Resistance to flow has a high industrual cost and improving flow rate would increase efficiency and allow new applications in a range of industries. This work analysed two ways of experimentally implementing flow in channels and tubes to improve understanding, and allow future development of materials that reduce frictional resistance to the flow of liquids.  

Self-Propelled Droplet Motion on Gradient Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces (G-SLIPS)

This project created surfaces which give low contact angle hysteresis, low friction and with the capability of imparting motion onto droplet without the need for a pumping mechanisms. This ability to control the liquid droplet interactions with surfaces has a range of potential practical applications such as is medical and domestic appliances.  

Non-Newtonian Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces: NN-SLIPS  

This project explored the impact of non-Newtonian liquid rheology on the physics of slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces. Understanding these processes better will help inform the design of new smart materials and the use of these materials for food packaging and biomedical devices.  

New Engineering Concepts from Phase Transitions: A Leidenfrost Engine   

Based on previous proof-of-concept work on the Leidenfrost Engine (see above) this work explored the concept of a Leidenfrost Engine based on substrates with turbine shaped surface patterns.  

Stimuli-responsive gel based microfluidic switch

This work examined whether the processes of buckling, wrinkling and creases of surfaces can be harnessed and developed to dynamically regulated the liquid flow in a micro-channel.  

Liquid actuation based on humidity gradients: Hygrotaxis

This project explored the concept of ‘hygrotaxis’ - a new self-propulsion mechanism for liquids that exploits non-uniform ambient humidities to create fluid flow.  

Thin Film Acoustic Wave Platform for Conformable and Mechanically Flexible Biosensors

This project is examining new platform technology to manufacture flexible devices for non-invasive and rapid medical diagnostics.  

3D-printable metamaterial Integrated piezopolymer-based sensing platforms

This project’s aim is to develop a wearable sensing platform by integrating two emerging technologies – metamaterial sensors and piezoelectric polymers.  

 

 

 

 

 


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