A mechanistic understanding of the freezing kinetics of water and aqueous solutions is of importance in a wide variety of settings in both academia and industry. The freezing process is controlled not only by thermodynamics, but also depends on the kinetics of ice nucleation.
Small volumes of highly purified water need to be cooled down to temperatures close to -40°C to initiate homogeneous nucleation. Since nucleation is an activated process, the nucleation time and temperature of samples will vary even in case they experience the same freezing conditions. Understanding this inherent stochasticity is essential for the development and optimization of processes that involve freezing. Such processes play a key role in the pharmaceutical industry to extend the shelf life of biopharmaceuticals.
Microfluidic platforms are well suited for nucleation studies due to their capabilities to generate large experimental data sets in a short time, i.e. each droplet represents a nucleation experiment. This project aims on upgrading an already existing microfluidic platform to perform ice nucleation. Many engineering challenges are waiting for you. Please find more detailed information in the linked proposal and do not hesitate to contact us in case you have any questions: https://ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/mavt/process-engineering/separation-processes-laboratory-dam/documents/education/StudentProjects/icenucleation_proposal.pdf