Fabrication of tunable silk materials through microfluidic mixers

Joseph R. Nalbach, Dave Jao, Douglas G. Petro, Kyle M. Raudenbush, Shibbir Ahmad, Ye Xue, Xiao Hu, Wei Xue

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A common method to precisely control the material properties is to evenly distribute functional nanomaterials within the substrate. For example, it is possible to mix a silk solution and nanomaterials together to form one tuned silk sample. However, the nanomaterials are likely to aggregate in the traditional manual mixing processes. Here we report a pilot study of utilizing specific microfluidic mixing designs to achieve a uniform nanomaterial distribution with minimal aggregation. Mixing patterns are created based on classic designs and then validated by experimental results. The devices are fabricated on polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) using 3D printed molds and soft lithography for rapid replication. The initial mixing performance is validated through the mixing of two solutions with colored dyes. The microfluidic mixer designs are further analyzed by creating silkbased film samples. The cured film is inspected with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to reveal the distribution uniformity of the dye particles within the silk material matrix. Our preliminary results show that the microfluidic mixing produces uniform distribution of dye particles. Because the microfluidic device can be used as a continuous mixing tool, we believe it will provide a powerful platform for better preparation of silk materials. By using different types of nanomaterials such as graphite (demonstrated in this study), graphene, carbon nanotubes, and magnetic nanoparticles, the resulting silk samples can be finetuned with desired electrical, mechanical, and magnetic properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicro- and Nano-Systems Engineering and Packaging
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
ISBN (Electronic)9780791850640
StatePublished - 2016
EventASME 2016 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2016 - Phoenix, United States
Duration: Nov 11 2016Nov 17 2016

Publication series

NameASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Proceedings (IMECE)


OtherASME 2016 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering


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