Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chaos, Twist Maps and Big Business

26.07.2004


Obscure mathematical ideas developed back in the 1980s could solve current problems of mixing fluids at the microscale, and revolutionise the technology, reports an article in Science.

The need to mix fluids at the microscale affects a whole range of developing technologies – from inkjet printers to DNA analysis – and finding ways to do it is becoming big business. Millions of dollars have already been poured into ‘lab-on-a-chip’ projects, but making miniature labs is not just a question of scaling things down.

When you pour cream into your coffee via the back of a spoon, it forms a delicious layer on the top, through which you sip your coffee. Should you want to mix the layers together, however, you simply pick up the spoon and stir, creating turbulence in the fluids that causes them to mix.



But it’s a different story when the amount of fluids you are trying to mix is very, very small. Tiny volumes behave in strange ways and getting them to mix is extremely difficult. This is where a powerful mathematical idea that involves chaos theory – ‘chaotic mixing’ – becomes useful, since it provides a key mechanism for mixing at such small scales.

Professor Steve Wiggins, a mathematician at Bristol University, and his colleague Professor Julio Ottino, a chemical engineer at Northwestern University, USA, pioneered ideas of chaotic mixing back in the 1980s. Recently they stumbled on even earlier, highly abstract, ideas – the exotically named ‘linked twist maps’. These, they suddenly realised, could be applied to the problems of mixing tiny volumes.

A common design for many micromixers currently in use is a construction that has several segments, each with different geometrical characteristics. Twist maps describe the swirling motion particles undergo as they move down the length of one segment, while ‘linked twist maps’ describe particle motion through multiple segments. As a result of their structure, Wiggins and Ottino found that linked twist maps can be designed to give exceptional mixing properties at the microscale.

This discovery has provided Wiggins and Ottino with a new method for the design of micromixers, and the potential to revolutionise the technology.

Professor Wiggins said: “Chaotic mixing is probably a long way from the thinking of those who develop new designs for mixing fluids at this scale. But this is an area where seemingly abstract mathematical work could have a direct impact on the bottom line.”

Design strategies are mainly based on a ‘trial-and-error’ procedure. This can be prohibitively expensive and negatively impact on commercial viability, due to uncertainties in the fabrication processes.

Cherry Lewis | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bristol.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Monitoring biodiversity with sound: how machines can enrich our knowledge
18.06.2019 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Uncovering hidden protein structures
18.06.2019 | Universität Konstanz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The hidden structure of the periodic system

The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified

The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

Im Focus: Tube anemone has the largest animal mitochondrial genome ever sequenced

Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.

The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....

Im Focus: Tiny light box opens new doors into the nanoworld

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.

Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Uncovering hidden protein structures

18.06.2019 | Life Sciences

Monitoring biodiversity with sound: how machines can enrich our knowledge

18.06.2019 | Life Sciences

Schizophrenia: Adolescence is the game-changer

18.06.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>