Design of Microfluidic and Electronic Systems with Soft or Flexible Structures

Dr. Aaron Mazzeo, Harvard University

Thursday, April 12, 2012, 10:30am

MacLean B01

This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series.

Soft materials such as elastomers are important for developing technologies in flexible electronics, microfluidics, robotics, and energy harvesting. We have designed a manufacturing process using centrifugal casting to produce silicone-based microfluidic devices. To address the rate-limiting step of removing bubbles during conventional prototyping of silicone-based devices, centrifugal casting removes bubbles quickly through diffusion and buoyancy, while also permitting simultaneous patterning of multiple surfaces with micro/nano features and precise control of the thickness of parts. With respect to flexible electronics, we have designed a class of touch pads based on low-cost metallized paper typically used as packaging for beverages or book covers. The individual keys in the touch pads detect changes in capacitance and contact with fingers by using the effective capacitance of the human body and the electrical impedance across the tip of a finger. With their easily arrayed keys, environmentally benign materials, and low cost, the touch pads have the potential to contribute to future developments in disposable, flexible devices, “smart” packaging, biomedical instrumentation, games, and energy-efficient user interfaces.

About the Speaker

Dr. Aaron Mazzeo is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University with George Whitesides. Prior to joining the Whitesides Group, Aaron completed his undergraduate (S.B.) and graduate degrees (S.M. and Ph.D.) at MIT in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. As a postdoctoral fellow, Aaron has researched paper-based electronics and diagnostics, soft robots, and acoustic extinction of flames. While at MIT, his graduate studies with David Hardt and David Trumper focused on centrifugal casting and hot embossing of microfluidic devices, mechatronics, precision engineering, and atomic force microscopy. His graduate and postdoctoral research has led to co-authored journal publications in Precision Engineering, Lab on a Chip, Angewandte Chemie, Advanced Materials, PNAS, and Polymer Engineering and Science, along with conference proceedings for ASME, SPIE, the Society of Plastic Engineers (SPE), the International Symposium for Nanomanufacturing (ISNM), and the International Conference on Micromanufacturing (ICOMM). Between graduate degrees, Aaron worked at Fusion Optix, a startup company in the Boston area, developing and manufacturing optical films for diffusing light. His areas of future research include design and manufacturing techniques for soft materials with emphasis in energy harvesting, flexible electronics, and robotics.