Unravelling anomalous mass and heat transport in miscible liquids

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Chemical and Process Engineering


The project will give the first ever direct microscopic view into highly localised anomalous pathways of thermodynamic driving forces for solvent-induced phase separation. The microscopic interdiffusion of species when miscible fluids are brought together is complex and poorly understood and yet it plays a key role in controlling critical quality attributes of many high value chemicals, pharmaceuticals and advanced materials. The pathways followed by systems towards their ultimate compositional and thermal equilibrium often lead to surprising events, such as unwanted phase separations or precipitation of unexpected solid forms. The central challenge for the development of genuine fundamental understanding and the discrimination between theories and models in the current literature and those coming through future scientific advances is to capture and quantify the relevant physics directly with spatial and temporal resolution at microscale.

At the intersection between physical sciences disciplines, including soft matter physics, analytical science and data science, we will use novel analytical methodologies to provide a transformative tool to study and understand complex phase separation phenomena. The aim of this proposal is to provide unprecedented insight into the mechanisms of anomalous mass and heat transport by in situ mapping of concentration and temperature, and instantly localising and identifying solid phases formed in non-uniform transient regions. We propose these dynamic maps as a new model-independent data standard for storing and reporting mass and heat transport measurements, replacing the incomplete and often misleading picture provided by commonly reported model-dependent macroscopic diffusion coefficients and heat conductivities.


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