Controlling Flow and Macromolecular Conformation in Microfluidic Devices


"Controlling Flow and Macromolecular Conformation in Microfluidic Devices"

Prof. Susan J. Muller

Department of Chemical Engineering

University of California, Berkeley



Microfluidics is of interest from a technological standpoint due to the promise of replacing conventional bench-scale chemical and biochemical processes with “lab-on-a-chip” schemes.  In addition, these devices provide a unique platform for studying the dynamics of macromolecules in well-defined flows.  Controlling flow at the microscale, however, requires fundamentally different approaches than one uses in macro-scale flows.  In the first part of this seminar, I’ll describe some strategies that we have been developing for valving and mixing in these microscale flows.  The particular method exploits the short thermal diffusion length scale of microdevices and relies on thermally-responsive materials that reversibly self-assemble into soft gels.  In the second part of the talk, I’ll describe some microflow experiments we have performed using fluorescence microscopy and fluorescently labeled DNA to directly measure both velocity and macromolecular conformation fields in complex flows.   This work, combined with Brownian dynamics simulations performed by collaborators at Stanford, is aimed at designing flows to manipulate DNA for sequencing applications.

Speaker Background:

Susan J. Muller is currently a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, Associate Dean of the Graduate Division, and is a member of the Bioengineering and Nanoscale Science and Engineering Graduate Groups.  She holds a B.S.E. in chemical engineering from Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from M.I.T.  Muller has worked on problems related to polymer fluid mechanics, rheology, and microfluidics for over 20 years at MIT, Schlumberger Cambridge Research, AT&T Bell Laboratories, and the University of California, Berkeley.  She has worked extensively in the area of viscoelastic instabilities in Taylor-Couette flows, the role of polymer-solvent interactions in determining macroscopic flow behavior, shear-induced migration of polymers in dilute solutions, and the behavior of DNA and synthetic macromolecules in microfluidic devices.  Examples of some recent research projects, selected publications, and a list of “Muller group” members and alumni can be found at her research group website:





Thursday, August 30


Michael's Restaurant at Shoreline Park
2960 N Shoreline Blvd
Mountain View, CA  94043
Directions  Map


6 PM social hour 
7 PM dinner 
8 PM lecture


$30 with advance registration 
Half price for students, retired, and unemployed. (late fee still applies, if applicable) 
Free if you attend just the lecture at 8PM. (but please let us know for headcount)
$40 after registration deadline, if possible -- please contact us to inquire.


we accept cash or checks, but are unable to accept payment by credit card at this time. You may pay at the door.


Please register on the web page  or contact:
    Len Radzilowski
    phone    650-361-3264

Deadline for registration:

5 PM, Tuesday, August 28

Dinner Selections:

chicken portobello
spinach and cheese tortellini

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