Mrudhula Baskaran, 2019, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

I studied diffusiophoresis, which is the motion of charged particles in aqueous solutions due to gradients in solute concentration. I tracked the diffusiophoretic motion of polystyrene (PS) particles and amine-modified PS (aPS) particles in response to externally imposed gradients in a sodium-chloride concentration. I prepared small-height Hele-Shaw chambers using polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), experimenting with and optimizing different chamber geometries. I performed fluorescent microscopy and analyzed particle motion using the image-tracking software ImageJ. My contributions to this project included optimizing the experimental setup and learning how different gradients of sodium-chloride concentration can affect particle motion. Through this experience, I learned experimentation skills and how to formulate general trends in data. This internship gave me the opportunity to frame and systematically answer research questions to test a hypothesis. Diffusiophoresis is a concept I enjoyed learning about, and I will continue my research with the Stone Group for my junior independent work.

* This internship is connected to the PEI Water and the Environment Grand Challenges project, “Diffusiophoresis of Control of Particles in Water Systems.”