Recent Publications

Bacteria forming drag-increasing streamers on a drop implicates complementary fates of rising deep-sea oil droplets

White A, Jalali M, Boufadel M, Sheng J. Bacteria forming drag-increasing streamers on a drop implicates complementary fates of rising deep-sea oil droplets. Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2020;10 (4305). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Competing time scales involved in rapid rising micro-droplets in comparison to substantially slower biodegradation processes at oil-water interfaces highlights a perplexing question: how do biotic processes occur and alter the fates of oil micro-droplets (<500 μm) in the 400 m thick Deepwater Horizon deep-sea plume? For instance, a 200 μm droplet traverses the plume in ~48 h, while known biodegradation processes require weeks to complete. Using a microfluidic platform allowing microcosm observations of a droplet passing through a bacterial suspension at ecologically relevant length and time scales, we discover that within minutes bacteria attach onto an oil droplet and extrude polymeric streamers that rapidly bundle into an elongated aggregate, drastically increasing drag that consequently slows droplet rising velocity. Results provide a key mechanism bridging competing scales and establish a potential pathway to biodegradation and sedimentations as well as substantially alter physical transport of droplets during a deep-sea oil spill with dispersant.
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Robust Fabrication of Polymeric Nanowire withAnodic Aluminum Oxide Templates

Brock L, Sheng J. Robust Fabrication of Polymeric Nanowire withAnodic Aluminum Oxide Templates. Micromachines [Internet]. 2019;11 (46). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Functionalization of a surface with biomimetic nano-/micro-scale roughness (wires) has attracted significant interests in surface science and engineering as well as has inspired many real-world applications including anti-fouling and superhydrophobic surfaces. Although methods relying on lithography include soft-lithography greatly increase our abilities in structuring hard surfaces with engineered nano-/micro-topologies mimicking real-world counterparts, such as lotus leaves, rose petals, and gecko toe pads, scalable tools enabling us to pattern polymeric substrates with the same structures are largely absent in literature. Here we present a robust and simple technique combining anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) templating and vacuum-assisted molding to fabricate nanowires over polymeric substrates. We have demonstrated the ecacy and robustness of the technique by successfully fabricating nanowires with large aspect ratios (>25) using several common soft materials including both cross-linking polymers and thermal plastics. Furthermore, a model is also developed to determine the length and molding time based on nanowires material properties (e.g., viscosity and interfacial tension) and operational parameters (e.g., pressure, vacuum, and AAO template dimension). Applying the technique, we have further demonstrated the confinement e ects on polymeric crosslinking processes and shown substantial lengthening of the curing time.
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Multiphase buoyant plumes with soluble drops or bubbles

Chu S, Prosperetti A. Multiphase buoyant plumes with soluble drops or bubbles. Physical Review Fluids. 2019;4 (084306).Abstract

This paper presents the results of a scaling study of bubble and drop plumes in a stratified ambient. Use is made of a standard integral model of the top-hat type, which can be reduced to one of the Gaussian type by a simple transformation. The focus of the work is on the effects of the dissolving material on the plume dynamics. It is pointed out that, for a drop plume, the loss of buoyancy due to dissolution can be compensated by a lightening of the ambient liquid associated with the dissolved drop material, or even aggravated if the density of the solution is greater than that of the undissolved drops. For bubbles, these effects are compounded by the volume expansion due to the falling hydrostatic pressure. This process is not important in deep water, where the peel height is smaller than the water depth, but can be significant in shallow water, where the two may be comparable. With a focus on the analysis of a point-source, three important parameters are identified. The first one compares the drop/bubble dissolution rate with the rise time to the neutral height (the level at which the plume density equals the ambient density), the second one accounts for the effect of the dissolved material on the liquid density, and the third one is the drop/bubble rise velocity compared with the characteristic plume velocity.

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A Device for measuring the in-situ response of Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells to airborneenvironmental agents

Chandrala LD, Afshar-Mohajer N, Nishida K, Ronzhes Y, Sidhaye VK, Koehler K, Katz J. A Device for measuring the in-situ response of Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells to airborneenvironmental agents. Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2019;9 (7263). Publisher's VersionAbstract



Measuring the time evolution of response of Normal Human Bronchial Epithelial (NHBE) cells to aerosols is essential for understanding the pathogenesis of airway disease. This study introduces a novel Real-Time Examination of Cell Exposure (RTECE) system, which enables direct in situ assessment of functional responses of the cell culture during and following exposure to environmental agents. Included are cell morphology, migration, and specialized responses, such as ciliary beat frequency (CBF). Utilizing annular nozzles for aerosol injection and installing windows above and below the culture, the cells can be illuminated and examined during exposure. The performance of RTECE is compared to that of the commercial Vitrocell by exposing NHBE cells to cigarette smoke. Both systems show the same mass deposition and similar trends in smoke-induced changes to monolayer permeability, CBF and transepithelial resistance. In situ measurements performed during and after two exposures to smoke show that the CBF decreases gradually during both exposures, recovering after the first, but decreasing sharply after the second. Using Particle image velocimetry, the cell motions are monitored for twelve hours. Exposure to smoke increases the spatially-averaged cell velocity by an order of magnitude. The relative motion between cells peaks shortly after each exposure, but remains elevated and even increases further several hours later.

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Copepod manipulation of oil droplet size distribution

Uttieri M, Nihongi A, Hinow P, Motschman J, Jiang H, Alcaraz M, Strickler RJ. Copepod manipulation of oil droplet size distribution. Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2019;9 (547). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Oil spills are one of the most dangerous sources of pollution in aquatic ecosystems. Owing to their pivotal position in the food web, pelagic copepods can provide crucial intermediary transferring oil between trophic levels. In this study we show that the calanoid Paracartia granican actively modify the size-spectrum of oil droplets. Direct manipulation through the movement of the feeding appendages and egestion work in concert, splitting larger droplets (Ø = 16 µm) into smaller ones (Ø = 4–8 µm). The copepod-driven change in droplet size distribution can increase the availability of oil droplets to organisms feeding on smaller particles, sustaining the transfer of petrochemical compounds among different compartments. These results raise the curtain on complex small-scale interactions which can promote the understanding of oil spills fate in aquatic ecosystems.
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