Fachgebiet Nano- und Mikrofluidik

Herzlich willkommen am Fachgebiet Nano- und Mikrofluidik!

Wir beschäftigen uns mit Transportphänomenen in Fluiden auf der Nano- und Mikrometerskala. Dabei interessiert uns besonders die Erforschung von Grundlagen mit der Intention, den Weg für neuartige Anwendungen zu bereiten. Unser Ansatz beruht auf einer „Bottom-up“-Strategie, d. h. die Forschung ist erkenntnisgetrieben. Wissenschaftliches Neuland zu betreten fasziniert uns, aber dabei behalten wir Anwendungen im Blick. Diese können auf unterschiedlichen Gebieten wie beispielsweise Nachhaltigkeit, Energiewandlung, Verfahrenstechnik oder der (bio)chemischen Analytik liegen.

Unsere Forschung erstreckt sich über ein breites Themenspektrum und kombiniert experimentelle, theoretische und numerische Ansätze. Zu unseren Arbeitsgebieten gehören Gaskinetik auf der Nanoskala, Transportprozesse in Elektrolytlösungen und an Flüssigkeitsgrenzflächen, Benetzungsphänomene und Trennprozesse für Biomoleküle.

In der Lehre bieten wir Veranstaltungen auf Masterniveau an, in denen sich unser Forschungsansatz wiederspiegelt. Dies bedeutet, dass dem Verständnis von Phänomenen und Prozessen eine große Bedeutung zukommt, diese aber auch im Anwendungskontext betrachtet werden.

Falls wir Ihr Interesse geweckt haben, würden wir uns über eine Kontaktaufnahme freuen!

Bild: Sebastian Keuth


June 22, 2021

Start of EU project TRANSLATE

Recently, the EU project TRANSLATE, funded under the FET-Open scheme of the EU, was launched. Heavily relying on results we published a few years ago (https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.225901), this project aims at establishing thermoelectric energy converters based on electrolyte-filled nanochannels. This could pave the way to the widespread use of inexpensive energy conversion devices made from highly abundant materials. Apart from our group, partners from the University College Cork (Ireland), the University of Latvia and the Spanish company Cidete form the TRANSLATE team. Further information can be found here: https://www.tu-darmstadt.de/universitaet/aktuelles_meldungen/einzelansicht_320064.de.jsp

May 7, 2021

Cloaking and shielding objects in a fluid flow

Among the best-known technologies deployed by Star Trek’s starships are their invisibility-inducing cloaking devices and their shields. Together with co-operation partners from the Technion, Israel, and IBM Research Europe we have developed a cloaking/shielding device for objects in microfluidic channels/chambers instead of starships. In cloaking mode, an object leaves the fluid flow around it undisturbed, and in shielding mode, the hydrodynamic forces on an object are eliminated. This principle may find a number of applications, for example in the manipulation of soft objects such as cells. See also https://physics.aps.org/articles/v14/s57.

E. Boyko, V. Bacheva, M. Eigenbrod, F. Paratore, A. D. Gat, S. Hardt, and M. Bercovici, Microscale hydrodynamic cloaking and shielding via electro-osmosis, Physical Review Letters 126 (2021), 184502.

April 22, 2021

Breakup of a liquid bridge on a solid surface

Liquid bridges that become unstable and break up are found in numerous situations, for example when a droplet pinches off from a liquid reservoir. We have studied the breakup dynamics of water bridges wetting a hydrophobic surface using experiments and simulations. The dynamics is governed by a balance of inertial and capillary forces. We find that the liquid bridge decays into droplets in very much the same way as a free liquid bridge.

M. Hartmann, M. Fricke, L. Weimar, D. Gründing, T. Marić, D. Bothe, and S. Hardt, Breakup dynamics of capillary bridges on hydrophobic stripes, International Journal of Multiphase Flow 140 (2021),103582.

April 16, 2021

Protein separation at liquid-liquid interfaces

The separation of proteins according to specific properties such as size plays an eminent role in many processes of the biotech industry. We have recently demonstrated a new separation process for proteins in a microfluidic device. First, a protein mixture is electrophoretically transported towards a liquid-liquid interface. The interface represents a transport resistance to the proteins, such that some species adsorb at the interface more easily than others. Protein separation can be accomplished if one species crosses the interface, while the other gets adsorbed, which was demonstrated in the paper referred to below. We believe that in the future this new method of protein separation could extend the spectrum of industrial separation processes.

F. Gebhard, J. Hartmann and S. Hardt, Interaction of proteins with phase boundaries in aqueous two-phase systems under electric fields, Soft Matter 17 (2021), 3929-3936.

February 26, 2021

Stability of liquid rings in capillary tubes

Imagine introducing a small droplet into a capillary tube with circular cross section. “Small” means that the droplet volume is of the order of the tube diameter cubed or smaller. Such a droplet can exist in several shapes. It can form a liquid plug, a liquid ring or a sessile droplet at the tube wall. Interestingly, whether or not a liquid ring can exist depends on its volume and the contact angle of the liquid at the wall. We have explored the stability limits of liquid rings using analytical and numerical methods and represented the results in a stability map.

C. Lv and S. Hardt, Wetting of a liquid annulus in a capillary tube, Soft Matter 17 (2021), 1756-1772.

December 17, 2020

Electroosmotic flow (EOF) induced by surface acoustic waves

Surface acoustic waves (SAW) are widely used in microfluidics for transporting and mixing liquids. SAWs are acoustic waves travelling along the interface between a solid and a fluid. Up to now, the electrokinetic effects due to SAWs have remained largely unexplored. We have theoretically studied the EOF induced by SAWs and found that in small-scale channels, the EOF velocity may significantly exceed the velocity due to the acoustic field. Therefore, SAW-induced EOF may be useful as a method for pumping liquids through small scale channels.

M. Dietzel and S. Hardt, Electroosmotic flow in small-scale channels induced by surface-acoustic waves, Physical Review Fluids 5 (2020), 123702.

November 19, 2020

Fluid interfaces can become solid-like

As a stream encounters an obstacle, floating debris sometimes piles up in front of the obstacle, forming a dense layer on the water surface. At a microscopic scale, surfactants, molecules attached to the interface between two fluids, can suffer the same fate, immobilizing the interface upstream of an obstacle. ‘Super-hydrophobic’ surfaces with embedded gas pockets have been suggested for reducing drag on objects moving through water. With this in mind, we investigated the impact that surfactants have on this mechanism and found that parts of the gas-water interface become ‘solidified’ by surfactant pile-up.

T. Baier and S. Hardt, Influence of insoluble surfactants on shear flow over a surface in Cassie state at large Péclet numbers, Journal of Fluid Mechanics 907 (2020), A3.

October 2, 2020

Also fluid interfaces can be viscous

Usually, viscosity is a quantity associated with the bulk of a fluid. If, however, small particles or surfactants are adsorbed to a gas-liquid or liquid-liquid interface, the interface itself becomes viscous. In that case, the viscosity coefficients represent the dissipation due to the presence of particles or surfactants in an average manner. We have recently derived analytical expressions for the viscosity coefficients of a particle-laden fluid interface in the limit of low particle concentrations. These results could significantly simplify simulations of two-phase flows with particle-laden interfaces.

M. Eigenbrod and S. Hardt, The effective shear and dilatational viscosities of a particle-laden interface in the dilute limit, Journal of Fluid Mechanics 903 (2020), A26.

May 29, 2020

Intermediate wetting states on superhydrophobic surfaces

Together with cooperation partners from the Technion/Israel, we have studied the wetting states of hierarchical superhydrophobic surfaces, consisting of an array of micropillars that is decorated with nanoparticles. We find a multitude of intermediate states between the classical Cassie and Wenzel states. The transition from the Cassie state to these intermediate states is partially reversible. A summary of the main results can be found here.

B. Rofman, S. Dehe, V. Frumkin, S. Hardt, and M. Bercovici, Intermediate states of wetting on hierarchical superhydrophobic surfaces, Langmuir 36 (2020), 5517−5523.

May 29, 2020

Enhancement of electroosmotic flow on superhydrophobic surfaces

Together with cooperation partners from the Technion/Israel, we have studied the electroosmotic flow along superhydrophobic surfaces, augmented by gate electrodes. Via the charges created at the gas-liquid interfaces, the flow velocity can be increased by more than a factor of 10 compared to unstructured surfaces. In addition, the flow is entirely pH-independent. A summary of the main results can be found here.

S. Dehe, B. Rofman, M. Bercovici, and S. Hardt, Electro-osmotic flow enhancement over superhydrophobic surfaces, Physical Review Fluids 5 (2020), 053701.

May 6, 2020

Gas separation in a Knudsen pump

Knudsen pumps rely on gas-flows induced by temperature differences. We have studied the transport of gas mixtures along a Knudsen pump and observed differences in flow of the individual components of the mixture. Therefore, such a pump may be used for gas separation. This kind of separation of gas species by mass or size plays an important role for many applications in chemical engineering.

Baier, T., Hardt, S. Gas separation in a Knudsen pump inspired by a Crookes radiometer. Microfluid Nanofluid 24, 41 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10404-020-02342-6

March 2, 2020

“Tears of wine” in capillary tubes

“Tears of wine” is a phenomenon that can be observed in wine glasses: Driven by Marangoni stresses, a liquid film crawls up along the glass wall. Now imaging shrinking the diameter of the wine glass to one millimeter. In that case, ring-like structures are formed from the film. These liquid rings finally collapse and form plugs that are propelled along the capillary tube by evaporation. We have studied this phenomenon based on experiments and theory.

Reference: C. Lv, S. N. Varanakkottu, and S. Hardt, Liquid plug formation from heated binary mixtures in capillary tubes, Journal of Fluid Mechanics 889 (2020), A15. DOI: 10.1017/jfm.2020.80