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Enhancing microfabricated devices with chemical imaging for novel chemical technology (MICROCHEMICALIMAGING)
Start date: 01 Jan 2009, End date: 31 Oct 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The development of microchemical systems is one of the most exciting recently developed research topics with numerous potential industrial applications. One of the greatest challenges to encourage these systems to be adopted by industry is successful high level integration with sensors for understanding, optimisation and control of microsystems for various processes. The proposed research will develop such systems and their integration via linking them with chemical imaging. The benefits of chemical engineering at smaller lengthscales are manifold; the design of microchemical processes is important where, by nature, it is essential to have microdevices, e.g. in cell biology manipulation and transformations. Other processes can be designed macroscopically, but a move to microprocesses gives process advantages, such as enhanced heat and mass transfer, novel flow regimes, bringing material and process time and lengthscales into the same region to allow material property and process interactions, which would be impossible in macro-reactors. In order to achieve this, it is essential to have the capability of rapid 3D chemical imaging on a nano/microscale, as only by devising these new techniques to image microchemical systems, it will be possible to optimise them for novel engineering. The proposal is aimed at providing chemical imaging capability to miniaturised devices for the engineering of new materials and processes. It is proposed (i) to use chemical imaging and micro-deposition methods for the generation of materials with responsive gradient structures; (ii) to engineer nanostructured materials aided by high-resolution chemical imaging; (iii) to combine microfluidics with chemical imaging as a prototype of miniaturised chemical factories. The overall aim is to utilise the advantages of spectroscopic chemical imaging to develop novel miniaturised devices and materials that will serve as suitable platforms for future industrial users with wide applicability.
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