NASA has selected a project of Ali Mohraz’s to fund under its “Research Opportunities in Complex Fluids and Macromolecular Biophysics” program. This particular NASA program provides a unique opportunity to study the physics of complex fluids in the absence of gravity.
Mohraz, an associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science, will receive more than $520,000 to fund the project. His is one of eight microgravity-related projects from six different states that the Space Agency is funding to be conducted aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Mohraz’s group will investigate the factors that affect the stability and processability of bijels, a new class of multiphase soft materials with a tunable bicontinuous microstructure. Mohraz will design and test the experiments in his laboratory at the Samueli School, then send samples to the ISS where NASA scientists will replicate the experiments in zero gravity. The results will be reported back to Mohraz for analysis and evaluation.
“Eliminating gravity from the equation allows us to study this complex problem in a more systematic way, which is a capability exclusively provided through this program,” explains Mohraz. “Understanding the factors that affect the processability of bijels can pave the way for the synthesis of bicontinuous composites for a wide range of applications including tissue engineering and energy materials.”