Microfluidic Method for Continuous Production of Microfibers with Embedded Droplets
Princeton Docket #14-2982
Fibers are a useful medium for numerous applications, including drug delivery. Current technologies usually make fibers of homogeneous chemical composition or employ axial core-shell structures. To create more complex shapes and compositions, external machinery such as programmable valves have been incorporated to produce multi-compartment fibers (Kang et al., Nature Materials, 2011, 10, 877).
In order to develop even greater functionality, researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University have developed a microfluidic method to continuously produce microfibers with embedded droplets regularly aligned along the length of the fiber. Single or multiple emulsions are formed in selectively wetting microchannels, and are flowed into liquid streams that are solidified to form the drops-in-fiber structure. The different phases of the fiber can vary in terms of hydrophobic/hydrophilic character, solid/liquid phase, or gel crosslink density, as well as using biological and/or inorganic components, which in turn allows for heterogeneous microenvironments within the fiber with varying solubility characteristics, permeability, and mechanical properties. Various compounds and materials can be encapsulated in the different microcompartments of the fiber for storage and delivery applications, as well as to provide multifunctionality to the fiber structure. It is anticipated that there is a broad range of potential applications of these fiber structures, for example as engineered substrates with controlled release profiles of multiple compounds, and for tissue engineering and bioengineering applications.
· Novel delivery for therapeutics such as a wound dressing with encapsulated functional drugs
· Tissue engineering as a tissue scaffold
· New platform for biological studies
· Magnetic applications to move fibers under magnetic force
· One-step process to produce double emulsion core droplets
· Novel structure has advantages of both fibers and droplets
· Allows for either simultaneous or sequential delivery of multiple materials
· Produces ordered composites as opposed to random dispersion of the particles in bulk polymer
Howard Stone is the Donald R. Dixon '69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University. His research has been concerned with a variety of fundamental problems in fluid motions dominated by viscosity, so-called low Reynolds number flows, and has frequently featured a combination of theory, computer simulation and modeling, and experiments to provide a quantitative understanding of the flow phenomenon under investigation. Professor Stone is the recipient of the most prestigious fluid mechanics prize, the Batchelor Prize 2008, for the best research in fluid mechanics in the last ten years. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.
Janine Nunes is an Associate Research Scholar in Professor Howard A. Stone's research group in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Princeton University. She earned her PhD in chemistry from the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, in the area of polymer particle synthesis and lithography. Her current research interests are in the use of multiphase microfluidics to template precursor liquid phases for the controlled fabrication of novel micro-objects, such as microfibers and core-shell/hollow microspheres.
Eujin Um is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Professor Howard Stone's group in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Princeton University. She obtained her BS in Mechanical Engineering from Seoul National University and her MS and PhD in Bioengineering at KAIST, Korea. Her research interests include designing a microfluidic platform that can provide a new way of conducting biological studies that are not possible with conventional tools or methods. Her work has been primarily focused on two-phase microfluidics and the control of droplet movement for encapsulation and screening of cell-based reactions. She also investigates various soft matter research questions and fabrication of the novel microstructures using microfluidics.
Tamara Pico is a 1st year PhD student in Applied Physics at Harvard University. She graduated Princeton with an A.B. in Chemistry in 2014, completing her senior thesis in Howard Stone's lab. Her thesis was titled "Microcompartmentalized Fibers for the Encapsulation and Release of Model Compounds."
Intellectual Property Status
Patent protection is pending.
Princeton is seeking to identify appropriate partners for the further development and commercialization of this technology.
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