Printing of Complex Fluids

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Physics


There is a growing interest in manufacturing functional or smart surfaces through some sort of printing process where well-defined droplets are delivered from a nozzle and deposited on a surface. Variants of inkjet printing are currently used for printing conductive tracks on circuit boards and for graphics applications such as decorative tiles, but there are a wide range of possible applications including precision agrochemicals, manufacture of TV displays, personalized medicines, wound dressings, sensors, optoelectronic devices, antimicrobial coatings in hospitals, etc. What these applications have in common is the need to understand how to formulate a product that can be delivered intact through a nozzle and how to control the way the droplets interact, coalesce and dry in order to obtain the desired functionality.
This project will be aligned with an EPSRC grant on 'Evaporative Drying of Droplets and the Formation of Microstructured and Functional Particles and Films', which involves Durham, Leeds and Bristol Universities together with 13 industrial partners across six industrial sectors: personal care, printing, coating, food, agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals. The EPSRC project uses inkjet and valvejet technology (in combination with microfluidics) to generate droplets in the pL to nL range, and high-speed imaging, interferometry and spectroscopy to characterize the behaviour of droplets in flight and on surfaces. The aim is not only to find ways of controlling the morphology and functionality of printed films but also to understand the physics behind the deposition process. Worked carried out to date has identified complex behaviour even from simple physical systems and there is a need to develop theoretical models to explain observed phenomena and to develop a predictive capability. This EPSRC studentship seeks to develop fluid mechanical models within a lubrication framework to explain the wetting and drying of simple and complex fluids on both flat and structured surfaces. The project will evolve from single isolated droplets to interactions between droplets and to film formation.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S515048/1 30/09/2018 30/07/2023
2194527 Studentship EP/S515048/1 23/09/2018 22/09/2022 Seth Richard Price