Purdue researchers also are pursuing the technology for pharmaceutical manufacturing, he said.
"These types of technology are good at being very dynamic, which means you can decide in real time to grab all particles of one size or one type and put them somewhere," Wereley said. "This is important for the field of pharmacy because a number of drugs are manufactured from solid particles suspended in liquid. The particles have to be collected and separated from the liquid."
This process is now done using filters and centrifuges.
"A centrifuge does the same sort of thing but it's global, it creates a force on every particle, whereas this new technology can specifically isolate only certain particles," Wereley said. "We can, say, collect all the particles that are one micron in diameter or get rid of anything bigger than two microns, so you can dynamically select which particles you want to keep."
The technology also may be used as a tool for nanomanufacturing because it shows promise for the assembly of suspended particles, called colloids. The ability to construct objects with colloids makes it possible to create structures with particular mechanical and thermal characteristics to manufacture electronic devices and tiny mechanical parts. The nanomanufacturing applications are at least five years away, he said.
The technology also can be used to learn fundamental electrokinetic forces of molecules and biological structures, which is difficult to do with existing technologies.
"Thus there are very fundamental science applications of these technologies as well," Kumar said.
|Contact: Emil Venere|