Mesoscale Chemical Systems

Research on electricity-driven activation mechanisms, using electricity from renewable energy sources, is a core activity of the Mesocale Chemical Systems group (MCS) headed by Han Gardeniers. Combined with downscaling and integration of unit chemical operations, enhanced yield and selectivity of chemical reactions and product purification, and improved analysis of mass-limited chemical and biological samples is achieved.

Introduction to group activities

The research focuses on the themes Alternative activation mechanisms for chemical process control and process intensification and Miniaturization of chemical analysis systems. A special interest is in periodic mesoscale structures, where the periodicity leads to improvements in chemical process throughput and selectivity, because such structures align the size scale of elemental reaction and mass/heat/electron transport processes with their respective time scales, and reduces the residence time distribution in a chemical processing unit. Effort is planned in the development of advanced additive manufacturing methods for functional mesoscale metamaterials for chemical process engeneering and sustainable energy (with a focus on solar energy). 3D nanostructuring using more conventional nanotechnology are developed further for biochemical and sustainable energy research. Because of the small distances over which chemical processes occur in mesoscale structures, it becomes possible to apply new concepts for activation of chemical reactions, for example, using ultrasound or electrical fields. In this way, processes can be intensified and more sustainable routes for chemical processing can be achieved. An example is solar-to-fuel conversion, in which solar light, via electrons and surface electrochemistry, is used to generate hydrogen gas, or in future, convert carbon dioxide to alcohols or other liquid fuels. Activities in this area are growing, e.g. via the introduction of novel light-harvesting nanostructures. In physics and chemistry the mesoscopic scale is the length scale at which one can reasonably discuss material properties or phenomena without having to discuss individual atom behaviour. Applied research at this scale is covered by the fields of nanotechnology and microtechnology (including microsystem technology, MST, micro electromechanical systems, MEMS, and microreaction technology).

The group is a very active user of the NanoLab clean room facilities and collaborates with many of the groups participating in the nanotechnology research institute MESA+, in particular with microfluidics colleagues in the group Soft Matter, Fluidics and Interfaces (SFI) lead by Rob Lammertink, photocatalysis colleagues in the group Photo-catalytic Fuel Synthesis (PCS) headed by GuidoMul, and nanofabrication colleagues in the group Molecular Nanofabrication headed by Jurriaan Huskens.

Main research themes

Latest news

MCS publishes a paper in ChemistrySelect

What the authors are proposing in the article entitled Scaled­up sonochemical microreactor with increased efficiency and reproducibility is to put all inside the “bag”. The results are based on a scaled-up version of a microfluidic reactor that generates bubbles with ultrasound to perform sonochemistry. ... read more

MCS on 'Chips and Tips' blog

On a recent Lab on a Chip blog "Chips and Tips", posted by the Royal Society of Chemistry, with this entry Efficient cleaning of a microfluidic chip, we give some tricks on how to achieve improved cleaning of microfluidic devices and connectors with ultrasound. ... read more

MCS paper in Biomicrofluidics

For the last two centuries needles have been used as the main drug delivery system, causing several problems such as spread of diseases, injuries in health care workers and waste contamination, among others. In this work, we studied the liquid microjet production on a CW laser-based microfluidic system in order to develop a needle-free portable, affordable and perhaps reusable injector in the future. ... read more

MCS in Journal of Fluid Mechanics

“We report on the enhancement of turbulent convective heat transport due to vapour-bubble nucleation at the bottom plate of a cylindrical Rayleigh–Bénard sample (…) filled with liquid. Microcavities acted as nucleation sites, allowing for well-controlled bubble nucleation.” ... read more