Centennial Seminar Series

Dr. James R. Friend

Professor, Center for Medical Devices and Instrumentation
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of California, San Diego


The difficulty of manipulating fluids and suspensions at micrometer to nanometer scales has hindered Lab on a Chip technology and its idyllic solutions to problems in healthcare, biology, and chemistry for well over a decade, giving rise to the derisive term “Chip in a Lab” for the discipline. Surprisingly, acoustics, as a centuriesold area of research, offers a route to genuine Lab on a Chip technology. Along the way, researchers have found a multitude of curious phenomena at small scales and high frequencies that are at odds with the classic research literature in acoustics and ultrasonics, helping to rewrite the fundamentals of acoustic wave propagation and interaction and responsible for a recent surge in prominent publications defining the field from several research groups worldwide. We explore these phenomena, arising from the unusually large accelerations (10^7–10^9 m/s^2) induced by acoustic waves, surface acoustic waves (SAW) and controlled bulk waves in particular. During the talk, engineered tools exploiting these new phenomena by many groups will be illustrated; including fingernailsized microdevices to atomize sessile droplets for drug and stem cell inhalation; devices for droplet jetting, splitting, and manipulation; a device for fluid pumping and particle segregation in closed microfluidics and nanofluidics structures; novel femtoliter-order fluid droplet manipulation tools, and particle concentration and separation in a sessile droplet. Along the way, the underlying physical phenomena will be explored, with brief discussion of recent discoveries including turbulent microfluidics and capillary wave behavior, Fresnel diffraction in fluid manipulation, soliton-like fluid film propagation, and beyond. Simple models of the phenomena that describe the physics and which are useful for understanding with reference to complex theory only when necessary. Some discussion of fabrication techniques, piezoelectric materials, and potential future research areas will complete the talk.

James Friend (M'98, SM' received the BS degree in aerospace engineering in 1992 and the MS and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 1994 and 1998. He has served as an assistant professor at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs from 1999 to 2001 and the Tokyo Institute of Technology’s Precision and Intelligence Laboratory from 2001 to 2004 before joining Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, where he progressed from senior lecturer to professor and associate dean, research, in the faculty of engineering from 2004 to 2011. Over 2005–9, he helped establish of the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication, a $45-million facility near Monash University, serving as a Senior Tech Fellow of the MCN from 2011 to 2014. In December 2011 he became a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow and the founding director of the $35 million MicroNano Research Facility at RMIT University in Melbourne, moving with his research team, serving to drive that facility from an idea to completion by August 2014 as a 1200 sqm cleanroom and biolab facility in downtown Melbourne, with five technical staff, and over 50 major nanofabrication and metrology tools. Soon after completion of the facility, he returned to the US in November 2014 as a Professor in the Center for Medical Devices and Instrumentation in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, San Diego.

Friend has published 135 peer-reviewed journal papers and 8 book chapters with over 270 peer-reviewed articles in his career, with an H-index of 37 and 4756 citations. His most recent awards include the Future Leader award from the Davos Future Summit in 2008; a Top 10 emerging scientific leader of Australia by Microsoft and The Australian newspaper award in 2009; an award as the corresponding author of one of the top 50 papers of the past 50 years of Applied Physics Letters in 2012; and the IEEE Carl Hellmuth Hertz Ultrasonics Award from the IEEE in 2015.