University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Graphene-Based Microfluidic Devices
This invention is the first example where large-area graphene has been harnessed as an architectural material in microfluidic devices. Incorporation of single-layer graphene enables a drastic reduction in device thickness. The resulting ultra-thin architecture facilitates on chip X-ray diffraction analysis. Graphene layers serve as a diffusion barrier to protect sample against evaporative losses and from external contaminants, e.g. such as oxygen for anaerobic work.

 

These devices have tremendous utility for applications in X-ray science, such as X-ray diffraction for structural biology and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) as well as other lab- on- a- chip applications. 

 

Published: 10/27/2017   |   Inventor(s): Sarah Perry, Christos Dimitrakopoulos, Shuo Sui, Yuxi (Nancy) Wang
Category(s): Devices & sensors, Research tools, Devices
Chemically Stable Fibers Electrospun from Polyelectrolytes
The invention is a new platform for fabricating nano- and macro- scale fiber materials and for encapsulation. Complex coacervates are associative complexes of positive and negative polyelectrolytes, which form complexes due to a combination of electrostatic and entropic interactions between the oppositely charged polyions. Due to their aqueous solubility, polyelectrolyte solutions are a good medium for encapsulating small molecules. However, while the concept of polyelectrolyte complexes for a drug delivery system and other applications has seen heightened interest in recent years, significant obstacles and challenges remain both in processing technologies and functionalities of the resulting materials.

 

Electrospinning is an established, versatile, inexpensive and scalable process for creating continuous, nanofibrous mats of non-woven nano-/micro-scale diameter fibers. Electrospun mats hold great promise in biomedical, environmental, and industrial fields.

 

The invention provides novel polymer nanofiber or microfiber mats and methods for their preparation via an aqueous, one-step polyelectrolyte complexation and electrospinning of complex coacervates. The process involves an aqueous medium and no organic solvents and/or strongly acidic or basic condition, resulting in chemically and thermally robust fiber mats. Thus, this process and the resulting materials have tremendous potential as a green processing strategy that can serve as the basis for developing a new class environmentally benign fiber scaffolds for use in applications, such as wound healing, water remediation, catalysis, and food packaging.

 

Published: 8/11/2017   |   Inventor(s): Jessica Schiffman, Sarah Perry, Xiangxi Meng
Category(s): Material science, Healthcare, Engineering