Electro-hydrodynamics - the use of electric fields to manipulate microscopic particles in fluids -- is the focus of research by Boris Khusid, associate professor of mechanical engineering. He is currently collaborating with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM, the government facility charged with developing technologies to support national security, to develop simulations of microscale and nanoscale manipulation of biomolecules, such as DNA. The goal of these simulations is to open the way for development of microdevices to detect harmful biological or chemical agents in air or water. Other potential applications of electro-microtechnologies include tiny separation devices for a wide variety of systems for environment monitoring, health care, and medical diagnostics.
The project continues the partnership with Sandia begun in 2003 when Dr. Khusid,s doctoral student, Dawn Bennett 04, served an internship at Sandia , where she worked as part of a team to test electro-microfluidics as a means of detecting harmful biological agents. The team developed provides a method for concentrating particles in focused regions and for separating biological and nonbiological materials. Their findings were published in Applied Physics Letters (September 2003).