Current Research Overview

Welcome to the Microscale Thermo-Fluid Dynamics Group (MTFD) directed by Prof. Carlos E. Colosqui @ the Mechanical Engineering Department of Stony Brook University (SBU). Our research involves the study of multiscale transport phenomena in nano- and microscale multiphase systems, where fluid mechanics is coupled to thermodynamic and molecular-level processes. Current research projects deal with theoretical, computational, and experimental studies of problems relevant to applications in materials science, environmental science, and energy conversion and storage. We employ analytical and computational methods that range from classical continuum models to mesoscopic approaches and molecular dynamics simulations. Our experimental work involves advanced nanofabrication and characterization of nanostructured materials, including synchrotron-based x-ray scattering studies at BNL's NSLS-II. The PI is affiliated with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, and the Joint Photon Sciences Institute at SBU. Our group has various collaborations with research groups in academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad, as well as in national laboratories, and industry partners. Our current research projects receive support from The National Science Foundation and The Office of Naval Research.

Colloidal Particles at Liquid-Fluid Interfaces, Thin Films, and Membranes

Our research work is producing new models to better understand the behavior of colloidal particles and complex fluids at "soft" interfaces and thin films. Analytical models developed as part of this research can account for experimental observations in recent studies by our group at Stony Brook U. and collaborators' groups (Prof. H.A. Stone at Princeton U., Prof. V.N. Manoharan at Harvard U.). Metastability induced by physical and/or chemical heterogeneities can produce regime crossovers from deterministic dynamics to thermally activated kinetics, which has dramatic effects on the time scales to reach thermodynamic equilibrium states. Among many other applications, the studied effects can be employed to control the adsorption of nanoparticles at lipid bilayers that form the membrane of different cells or to stabilize new colloidal materials, such as water-in-water emulsions. This research area has opened exciting directions that we are currently exploring with collaborators.

Nanostructured Surfaces for Separation Processes and Wettability Control

Nano/Microfluidic devices can be employed for applications such as energy conversion/storage and water treatment among many others. In nano/microscale systems, Brownian motion, the nanoscale interfacial structure, and surface forces produce a variety of wetting and transport phenomena that enable exciting technical applications. Advances in nanofabrication allow us to engineer the nanoscale structure of surfaces of nano/microfluidic devices in order to control the interplay between thermal motion and interfacial forces, and thus enhance the selective transport and separation of different fluids, solutes, and colloidal materials. At user facilities in the Center for Functional Nanomaterials of Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), our group is currently designing and fabricating slit nanochannels with superhydrophobic nanostructured surfaces having ordered arrays of conical nanopillars (~10 to 100 nm). When using electrolyte solutions these prototype nanofluidic devices can convert mechanical pressure into electric current with unprecedentedly high efficiencies owing to the selective transport of different ions. This project receives support from the Office of Naval Research. In other project supported by the National Science Foundation, we are designing porous materials consisting of capillary arrays with nano/microstructured surfaces. These nanoporous materials can efficiently separate water and organic liquids insoluble in water (e.g, oils) through selective wetting.