Discovery Magazine

Photo Credit: Peter J. Cohen

Microcapsules for Core Content Delivery

This project involves the design of microcapsules of specific sizes for various applications. There are numerous methods currently underway for generating such microcapsules, including the use of specially designed microfluidic devices. The Nesnas lab is currently elaborating on a specific technique using one of several microfluidic devices that assembles the microcapsules using photochemical technologies. The content of these microcapsules can be varied according to the application needed. Microfluidic devices require intricate design for successful assembly.

One of the applications currently under investigation is the potential to use these microcapsules in space explorations.  There are multiple types of devices that require the delivery of certain chemical mixes under varying temperatures and pressures.

The material used for the capsule coating will be specific to the contents within. Compatibility of materials is a major challenge and wil be investigated throughly. In the early stages of this project, the main focus is to obtain the exact dimensions of these capsules for the specific space applications needed.

The design of these capsules will be further explored for biomedical engineering applications. Drug delivery for potential cancer therapy is in critical demand. We will use our experience of photosensitive structure design to enable the fabrication of capsules that are triggered by light for the release of their contents.

This project currently has one graduate student and one undergraduate student. The use of microfluidic devices is a unique approach that enables a diverse array of designs. The expansion of this project to biomedical application will necessitate the addition of at least one more graduate student and two undergraduate students. 

This is a very highly interdisciplinary area of research. Research students of varying backgrounds and experiences are strongly encouraged to participate.  The fields of expertise span across the chemistry, physics (optics), chemical engineering, biology and space sciences.