R&D Profile: The microfluidics of cilia motion, Y. Ventikos
Dr. Ventikos and his research team focus on looking at problems in medicine and biology, and on drawing inspiration from phenomena and mechanisms observed there to design devices that are of practical use.
Yiannis Ventikos formed the Fluidics and Biocomplexity Group when he joined the University of Oxford in 2003. He is a member of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, and a Fellow and Tutor in Engineering at Wahdam College. His interests and specialization focus is on computational simulation methods for complex phenomena, with an emphasis on multiscale/multiphysics modeling, biological/clinical transport phenomena, fluid mechanics, micro- & nano-technologies, sustainability & the environment and innovative manufacturing and processing techniques. Dr. Ventikos gives NWN readers an overview of his research, building on the presentation he gave at NSTI Nanotech 2007 in Silicon Valley, CA.
Our work focuses on looking at problems in medicine and biology, and on drawing inspiration from phenomena and mechanisms observed there to design devices that are of practical use. An example of this approach was presented at Nanotech 2007 last year, where we showed results of our investigation on cilia motion. The cilia we study are biological microfluidic actuators, long cellular protrusions that oscillate, often in a complicated fashion, and set the fluid around them in motion. Cilia are practically omnipresent in the human body, from kidneys to lungs. Computational modelling allows us to virtually probe deep into the dynamics of this cell-fluid interaction and to access a range of features, like efficiency, mixing, flow and pressure etc.
The principal driving interest behind this study is the evaluation of potential cell-fluid-cell signaling pathways in the early precursor of the heart, the mammalian node. The range of applications emerging directly from this understanding is very substantial and is connected with the numerous congenital conditions that the heart suffers from, often linked with such early stage signaling defects. Moreover, being motivated by the repeatability, accuracy, efficiency and robustness of this biological system, we explore and design cilia-like-based devices; micro-pumps that sit, in effect, between a peristaltic and a rotary concept, since they exploit, in a very cilia-like fashion, both options to pump fluid in these very small and very viscous scales.