The objective is to study and develop new electrohydrodynamic flow phenomena. When a strong electric field is applied to the interface separating a dielectric medium and a conducting liquid, the interface typically forms a conical shape with a thin jet attached at its tip, as shown in Figure 1. The jet often breaks up into electrically charged, non-coalescing “electrospray” droplets, or can remain intact under conditions of very high viscosity, resulting in “electrospun” fibers. By proper tuning of the properties of the liquid (e.g. electrical conductivity), it is possible to control the diameters of these droplets and fibers from 100’s of microns down to atomic dimensions. These flows form the basis of applications ranging from bright ion beams, biotechnology, and colloid thrusting of microsatellites to tissue engineering.
Current research focuses on the mechanisms behind some unique modes of electrohydrodynamic atomization flows, with the purpose of optimizing the generation of droplets and fibers with diameters well under the wavelength of visible light.