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  1. Abstract

    Stimuli‐responsive hydrogels with programmable shapes produced by defined patterns of particles are of great interest for the fabrication of small‐scale soft actuators and robots. Patterning the particles in the hydrogels during fabrication generally requires external magnetic or electric fields, thus limiting the material choice for the particles. Acoustically driven particle manipulation, however, solely depends on the acoustic impedance difference between the particles and the surrounding fluid, making it a more versatile method to spatially control particles. Here, an approach is reported by combining direct acoustic force to align photothermal particles and photolithography to spatially immobilize these alignments within a temperature‐responsive poly(N‐isopropylacrylamide) hydrogel to trigger shape deformation under temperature change and light exposure. The spatial distribution of particles can be tuned by the power and frequency of the acoustic waves. Specifically, changing the spacing between the particle patterns and position alters the bending curvature and direction of this composite hydrogel sheet, respectively. Moreover, the orientation (i.e., relative angle) of the particle alignments with respect to the long axis of laser‐cut hydrogel strips governs the bending behaviors and the subsequent shape deformation by external stimuli. This acousto‐photolithography provides a means of spatiotemporal programming of the internal heterogeneity of composite polymeric systems.

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  2. Abstract

    Mild traumatic brain injury is an all-too-common outcome from modern warfare and sport, and lacks a reproducible model for assessment of potential treatments and protection against it. Here we consider the use of surface acoustic wave (SAW) irradiation ofC.elegansworms—without cavitation—as a potential, ethically reasonable animal-on-a-chip model for inducing traumatic brain injury in an animal, producing significant effects on memory and learning that could prove useful in a model that progress from youth to old age in but a few weeks. We show a significant effect by SAW on the ability of worms to learn post-exposure through associative learning chemotaxis. At higher SAW intensity, we find immediate, thorough, but temporary paralysis of the worms. We further explore the importance of homogeneous exposure of the worms to the SAW-driven ultrasound, an aspect poorly controlled in past efforts, if at all, and demonstrate the absence of cavitation through a change in fluids from a standard media for the worms to the exceedingly viscous polyvinyl alcohol. Likewise, we demonstrate that acoustic streaming, when present, is not directly responsible for paralysis nor learning disabilities induced in the worm, but is beneficial at low amplitudes to ensuring homogeneous ultrasound exposure.

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  4. Abstract

    Ultrasound has been used to manipulate cells in both humans and animal models. While intramembrane cavitation and lipid clustering have been suggested as likely mechanisms, they lack experimental evidence. Here, high‐speed digital holographic microscopy (kiloHertz order) is used to visualize the cellular membrane dynamics. It is shown that neuronal and fibroblast membranes deflect about 150 nm upon ultrasound stimulation. Next, a biomechanical model that predicts changes in membrane voltage after ultrasound exposure is developed. Finally, the model predictions are validated using whole‐cell patch clamp electrophysiology on primary neurons. Collectively, it is shown that ultrasound stimulation directly defects the neuronal membrane leading to a change in membrane voltage and subsequent depolarization. The model is consistent with existing data and provides a mechanism for both ultrasound‐evoked neurostimulation and sonogenetic control.

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  5. Abstract

    A major challenge for negative‐index acoustic metamaterials is increasing their operational frequency to the MHz range in water for applications such as biomedical ultrasound. Herein, a novel technology to realize acoustic metamaterials in water using microstructured silicon chips as unit cells that incorporate silicon nitride membranes and Helmholtz resonators with dimensions below 100 μm fabricated using clean‐room microfabrication technology is presented. The silicon chip unit‐cells are then assembled to form periodic structures that result in a negative‐index metamaterial. Finite‐element method (FEM) simulations of the metamaterial show a negative‐index branch in the dispersion relation in the 0.25–0.35 MHz range. The metamaterial is characterized experimentally using laser‐doppler vibrometry, showing opposite phase and group velocities, a signature of negative‐index materials, and is in close agreement with FEM simulations. The experimental measurements also show that the magnitude of phase and group velocities increase as the frequency increases within the negative‐index band, confirming the negative‐index behavior of the material. Acoustic indices from –1 to –5 are reached with respect to water in the 0.25–0.35 MHz range. The use of silicon technology microfabrication to produce acoustic metamaterials for operation in water opens a new road to reach frequencies relevant for biomedical ultrasound  applications.

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  6. Abstract

    Both powerful and unstable, practical lithium metal batteries have remained a difficult challenge for over 50 years. With severe ion depletion gradients in the electrolyte during charging, they rapidly develop porosity, dendrites, and dead Li that cause poor performance and, all too often, spectacular failure. Remarkably, incorporating a small, 100 MHz surface acoustic wave device (SAW) solves this problem. Providing acoustic streaming electrolyte flow during charging, the device enables dense Li plating and avoids porosity and dendrites. SAW‐integrated Li cells can operate up to 6 mA cm−2in a commercial carbonate‐based electrolyte; omitting the SAW leads to short circuiting at 2 mA cm−2. The Li deposition is morphologically dendrite‐free and close to theoretical density when cycling with the SAW. With a 245 µm thick Li anode in a full Li||LFP (LiFePO4) cell, introducing the SAW increases the uncycled Li from 145 to 225 µm, decreasing Li consumption from 41% to only 8%. A closed‐form model is provided to explain the phenomena and serve as a design tool for integrating this chemistry‐agnostic approach into batteries whatever the chemistry within.

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  7. Abstract

    The ability to monitor sub‐micrometer gas vesicles' (GVs) vibration behavior to nonlinear buckling and collapse using laser Doppler vibrometry is reported, providing a precise noncontact technique for monitoring the motion of sub‐micrometer objects. The fundamental and first harmonic resonance frequencies of the vesicles are found to be 1.024 and 1.710 GHz, respectively. An interparticle resonance is furthermore identified at ≈300 MHz, inversely dependent upon the agglomerated GV size of around 615 nm. Most importantly, the vesicles amplify and broaden input acoustic signals at far lower frequencies—for example, 7 MHz—associated with medical and industrial applications, and they are found to transition from a linear to nonlinear response at 150 kPa and to collapse at 350 kPa or greater.

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  8. Controlled nanoscale manipulation of fluids and colloids is made exceptionally difficult by the dominance of surface and viscous forces. Acoustic waves have recently been found to overcome similar problems in microfluidics, but their ability to do so at the nanoscale remains curiously unexplored. Here, it is shown that 20 MHz surface acoustic waves (SAW) can manipulate fluids, fluid droplets, and particles, and drive irregular and chaotic fluid flow within fully transparent, high‐aspect ratio 50–250 nm tall nanoslits fabricated via a new direct, room temperature bonding method for lithium niobate (LN). Applied in the same direction, SAW increases the capillary filling rate of the hydrophilic LN nanoslit by 2–5 times. Applied in opposition, the SAW switches the flow direction and drains the channel against 1 MPa capillary pressure, and can be used to controllably manipulate ≈10 fL droplets. Finally, entire 10 μL droplets can be sieved via SAW through the nanoslit to pass only particles smaller than its height, providing pumpless size exclusion separation.

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