March 27, 2013

Physics lecturer to talk about microfluids

By Communications and Marketing

The process of encapsulating drugs, cosmetics or food additives in microfluids is the topic of the next presentation in Kansas State University's James R. Neff Lectureship in Physics.

David Weitz, Mallinckrodt professor of physics and applied physics at Harvard University, will present "Dripping, jetting, drops and wetting: The magic of microfluidics" at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 1, in Town Hall at the Leadership Studies Building. Microfluidics is the study of fluids on a geometrically small scale.

This talk will discuss the use of microfluidic devices to precisely control the flow and mixing of fluids to make drops. Weitz will explore a variety of uses to create new materials that are difficult to synthesize with any other method. These materials have great potential for encapsulation and release of substances such as medications.

Also, Weitz will show how the droplets can be used as microreactors to perform biological reactions at remarkably high rates using very small quantities of fluids. He will demonstrate how this can be used for new fundamental and technological applications in biology.

Weitz and his research group study the physics of soft condensed matter, materials easily deformed by external stresses, electric, magnetic or gravitational fields and even thermal fluctuations. The goal of their research is to probe and understand the relationship between mesoscopic structure and bulk properties. The group studies both synthetic and biological materials, with interests ranging from fundamental physics to technological applications and from basic materials questions to specific biological problems.

Weitz received his bachelor's degree from the University of Waterloo and his doctorate from Harvard University. He is a professor in the department of systems biology at Harvard, director of the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, and co-director of the BASF Advance Research Initiative at Harvard. He has been awarded numerous patents for his work and his research has been published in several high-profile journals, such as Nature and Science.

The lectureship is named after James R. Neff, an alumnus of the university. Neff was an internationally recognized orthopaedic surgeon and professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He developed a surgical implant with a titanium intramedullary nail known as the Neff Nail.

The lectureship is funded by an endowment established with a bequest from Neff, to perpetuate and honor his parents, Everett and Florine Neff, and further represent Neff's gratitude for the opportunities and education that he received at Kansas State University.