Carbon microbeads underpin the NanoPak-C All Carbon suite of chromatography products.
Microfluidic-based micron-sized droplet generation for material synthesis has emerged as a promising technique. These methods allow for much higher precision and repeatability than conventional atomization techniques. Microfluidic-based droplet generation technologies have mainly been explored for low viscous dispersions to generate spherical soft gel or hydrophobic polymeric microparticles.
“Commercial end-to-end microfluidic-based solutions that input viscous raw material and output final dried products (customized to composition, density, size, shape, or porosity) has been challenging.” Says Michael Parente, senior scientist and lead author of the article.
He says current commercially available microfluidic technologies mainly use low-viscosity input materials. As a frame of reference, the viscosity of water is 0.89 mPa·s. The organic media n-decane and safflower oil, used in microfluidic droplet generation, have viscosity values of 1 and 50 mPa·s, respectively. We found that off-the-shelf microfluidic products are unsuitable or cannot be directly adapted for viscous slurries (> 200 mPa∙s ) of materials to generate dense micro-emulsions or rigid microspheres due to the complexity of the requirements.
End-to-end microbead manufacturing requires a customized setup to handle viscous material slurries, post-processing the generated droplets into stable microemulsions and solid spherical microbeads. Further, it needs quick iterative changes in the slurry preparation and processing steps for further structural (e.g., porosity) or functional (e.g., mechanical property) changes in the microemulsions and microbeads.
Millennial Scientific’s microbead synthesis platform addresses the above-stated challenges and differentiates it from the competition. It integrates a microfluidic droplet-based scalable manufacturing method and unique combinations of starting material, binder, stabilizer, and additives to generate micro-emulsions and microbeads. The choice of starting materials, crosslinkers, and optional additives provide a toolbox to customize composition, structure, and function.
Many competitors in microfluidic-based material synthesis mainly specialize in early discovery research. The company has plans beyond custom microemulsion and microbead design. It is developing a materials acceleration platform that can be seamlessly scaled up to create next-generation products & solutions for chemical and biochemical separation & pharmaceutical delivery.
“We are not only focusing on materials R&D that allow the design of customizable microbeads but also on processes that will quickly facilitate transfer to pilot- and full-scale manufacturing,” says Balaji Sitharaman, President of Millennial Scientific and corresponding author of the published article. “We are further advancing the platform by including machine learning and automation elements to develop material acceleration platforms to facilitate early material discovery with the ability to scale up seamlessly.”
Material acceleration platforms (MAPs) are also known as self-driving labs (SDLs). The overarching goal of these platforms is to combine current knowledge of material science with the power of artificial intelligence, robotics, and advanced computing to autonomously, quickly, and iteratively design and test new materials. Human empirical knowledge and analysis inputs are also included in this process. This cycle is also referred to as closed-loop self-driving labs.
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (1R43AT010583 and 1R44AT012008) and the National Science Foundation (1746697 and 1926852).
For more details, contact:
Dr. Balaji Sitharaman, President, Millennial Scientific,
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