Ankur Gupta, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, received an ACS Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Award (ACS PRF-DNI) for his proposal titled, “Nonequilibrium Analysis of Active Droplets Driven by Micellar Solubilization: Effect of In-Situ Change in Droplet Shape and Inter-Droplet Interactions.”
This is the first grant for Gupta’s group, the Laboratory of Interfaces, Flow and Electrokinetics (LIFE). The two-year grant is for $110,000.
About 75 DNI awards are made each year. The DNI award is given to early-career investigators on a topic distinct from their doctoral thesis and postdoctoral research. Gupta had not previously worked on the topic of “active droplets,” and this is a new area for LIFE.
“The proposals are reviewed by experts in the field and thus receiving the award increased my confidence to pursue new and bold research directions, '' he said.
Active droplets refer to the motion of droplets in another liquid when they “sense” a change in concentration of surfactants, Gupta said. Typically, droplet motion is time-dependent and the droplets stop moving after a certain period. Prior theoretical work in literature has largely disregarded the time-dependent effects, a gap this proposal seeks to bridge, he said. The group will first focus on understanding the time-dependent effect on a single droplet and will then extend the analysis to multiple droplets.
"The understanding of these time-dependent effects will help us get more insights into 'micellar solubilization,' a crucial process in enhanced oil recovery," Gupta said.