Complex Fluids and Multiphase Flows

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Aerosols, Emulsions, Suspensions, and Foams

In the Dutcher Lab, we are interested in fundamental studies of the dynamics of complex interfaces and multiphase flows, with a particular focus on environmental remediation. Complex fluids are fluidic mixtures featuring multiple phases and mesoscopic length scales, and include atmospheric aerosols, liquid-liquid emulsions, polymeric solutions, and colloidal suspensions. These interface-rich systems are all around us in our everyday lives.

Using macro and micro-scale flow measurements and analytic mathematical modeling, we explore such areas as the thermodynamics of electrolyte-containing atmospheric aerosols, fluid dynamics and rheology of polymeric and particle-laden solutions, and microfluidics of multiphase flows.

Lab News

  • November 2020: Dr. Athena Metaxas, Vishal Panwar, and Ruth Olson's paper "Ionic strength and molecular weight effects on floc formation and growth in Taylor-Couette flows" was just accepted in Soft Matter. Congrats everyone!  
  • October 2020: Dr. Chen and Dr. Narayan's invited Feature Paper "Phase-dependent surfactant transport on the microscale: Interfacial tension and droplet coalescence" was just accepted in Langmuir.  Great work!  
  • October 2020: Dr. Narayan's paper "Droplet shape relaxation in a four-channel microfluidic hydrodynamic trap" was accepted in Physical Review Fluids, in collaboration with Donaldson Company. Congrats all!
  • September 2020: Dr. Chen's co-authored paper "Impact of Interfacial Tension and Critical Micelle Concentration on Bilgewater Oil Separation" was accepted in Journal of Water Process Engineering. This work is a DOD SERDP collaboration lead by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division. Congrats everyone!
  • September 2020: Dr. Metaxas's paper "Microfluidic filament thinning of aqueous, fibrillar methylcellulose solutions" was accepted in Physical Review Fluids. This work is a MRSEC collaboration between the Dutcher, Lodge, and Bates groups. Congrats all!
  • August 2020: Cari has been elected to the Executive Committee for the American Association of Aerosol Research AAAR Board, in the position of Secretary-Elect, starting Fall 2020.
  • August 2020: Shweta, Athena, Rana, and Tom's paper "Zooming in on the role of surfactants in droplet coalescence at the macro- and microscale" was accepted in Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science.  Congrats Everyone!
  • August 2020: Priyatanu, Iaroslav, and RJ's paper "Temperature-dependent phase transitions of aqueous aerosol droplet systems in microfluidic traps" was accepted in ACS Earth and Space Chemistry. This is an exciting CAICE collaboration with Prof. Vicki Grassian and graduate student Liora Mael at UC San Diego.  Congrats All!
  • August 2020:  Athena successfully defensed her PhD thesis in Materials Science and Engineering.  Excellent job, Dr. Metaxas! 
  • August 2020:  Shweta successfully defensed her PhD project in Mechanical Engineering.  Wonderful work, Dr. Narayan! 
  • July 2020: Shweta and Iaroslav's paper "Insights into the microscale coalescence behavior of surfactant-stabilized droplets using a microfluidic hydrodynamic trap" was accepted in Langmuir.  Congrats Shweta and Iaroslav!
  • July 2020: Lucy and Shihao's CAICE paper on phase transitions of sea spray droplets, in collaboration with Prof. Prather's group at UC San Diego and Scripps, was highlight in a joint virtual issue on Atmospheric Chemistry by ACS Earth and Space Chemistry and Journal of Physical Chemistry.  Congrats Everyone!
  • May 2020:  Thomas Neumiller successfully defensed his MS project, and has graduated with an MS in Mechanical Engineering.  Congrats Tom! 
  • May 2020: Ben's paper "Microfluidic rheology of methylcellulose solutions in hyperbolic contractions and the effect of salt in shear and extensional flows" was accepted in Soft Matter.  Congrats Ben!
  • April 2020:  Nikhil Sethia passes his Preliminary Exam, and is now a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering.  Congrats Nikhil!  
  • Feb 2020: Yun's paper "Size dependent droplet interfacial tension and surfactant transport in liquid–liquid systems, with applications in shipboard oily bilgewater emulsions" was accepted in Soft Matter.  Congrats Yun!
  • Dec 2019: Exciting UMN Mech Eng - Industry partnerships recently highlighted on filtration fluids and agricultural sprays, including a shout out to our work on droplet dynamics.
  • Dec 2019: Prof Dutcher is delighted to share that she will be jointly appointed in Mechanical Engineering (ME) and Chemical Engineering and Materials Science (CEMS) departments, starting July 2020.
  • Dec 2019: Shihao Liu passed his Mechanical Engineering oral preliminary exam. Congrats Shihao!
  • Dec 2019: Shweta Narayan has accepted a position at Intel, starting end of summer 2020. Congrats Shweta!
  • Nov 2019: Athena Metaxas has accepted a position at PolyOne, starting end of summer 2020. Congrats Athena!
  • Nov 2019: Rana Bachnak has passed the mechanical engineering doctoral oral qualifying exams. Congrats Rana!
  • Nov 2019: Rana Bachnak and Maggie House have joined the lab as first year PhD students in mechanical engineering (Rana) and chemical engineering and materials science (Maggie). Welcome Rana and Maggie!

See Archived News for more!