Francesca DiMare ’23
Engineering Microfluidic Devices to Increase the Degradation Rate of Organic Contaminants Under Flow
Certificate(s): Environmental Studies, Materials Science and Engineering
I worked with my mentor to devise a research experiment from the ground up. After reviewing the literature surrounding microfluidic devices, we discovered there was high potential in using microfluidics to study photodegradation. Photodegradation is a method of treating organic water pollution and has significant value in expanding access to potable water. However, photodegradation has various limitations, including a deficiency of dissolved oxygen. Microfluidics can be fabricated with trapped air pockets (i.e., plastron layers) that potentially address this limitation. Taking inspiration from relevant literature, we systematically varied flow rate, plastron volume and triple-phase contact length to explore how trapped plastron layers influence photodegradation kinetics under flow. Though we have not yet measured significant levels of photodegradation with our current experimental design, this research is ongoing. This internship gave me familiarity with various image analysis techniques, such as measuring contact angles and analyzing particle velocimetry. Additionally, reviewing literature and having direct influence in the process of posing a research question enhanced my research abilities and increased my confidence in pursuing research after graduation. Applying microfluidics and photocatalysis to water purification also reaffirmed my passion for addressing environmental issues.
Water and the Environment
Complex Fluids Group, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University
Howard Stone, Donald R. Dixon ’69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Samantha McBride, Postdoctoral Research Associate and Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering