Daniele received his Laurea in Nuclear Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano in 2006. At the same institution, in 2010, he got his Ph.D. in Radiation Science and Technology working on "Thermophoresis in complex fluids" under the supervision of Prof. Roberto Piazza. He investigated the behavior of colloidal suspension in a temperature gradient with optical methods (e.g., the beam deflection technique), and in microfluidic devices during his internship at Harvard University in the group of Prof. Howard A. Stone.
In 2011 he moved to Princeton University working as a Postdoctoral research associate in the Complex Fluids Group of Prof. Howard A. Stone. Here he worked on an experimental and theoretical fluid mechanical investigation of particle-wall impacts and air-bubble behavior in a T-junction. He also developed a microfluidic microbial fuel cell and investigated the dependence of the electric output on the shear stress induced by the flow.
In December 2012 Daniele joined the deMello group in ETH Zurich after been awarded of the ETH Postdoctoral Fellowship (Marie Curie Actions).
Thermophoresis is the rectification of Brownian motion induced by the presence of a thermal gradient del T, yielding a net drift of colloidal particles along or against the direction of del T. The effect is known to depend on the specific interactions between solute and solvent, and quantitative theoretical models are lacking except in a few simple experimental cases. Both the order of magnitude and the temperature dependence of the thermophoretic mobility D-T are known to be very similar for a wide class of aqueous colloidal systems, ranging from latex colloids to polymers, surfactant micelles, proteins, and DNA. Here we show that thermoresponsive microgel particles made of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) do not share, in the temperature range around the theta-point, these common features. Instead, D-T displays an unusually strong temperature dependence, maintaining a linear growth across the collapse transition. This behaviour is not shared by linear PNIPAM chains, for which existing data show D-T falling at the transition, with similar values between the expanded coil and collapsed globule states away from the transition point. A possible connection of the observed giant temperature dependence of D-T to microgel hydration is suggested.
We show that thermophoresis, i.e., mass flow driven by thermal gradients, can be used to drive particle motion in microfluidic devices exploiting suitable temperature control strategies. Due to its high sensitivity to particle/solvent interfacial properties, this method presents several advantages in terms of selectivity compared to standard particle manipulation techniques. Moreover, we show that selective driving of particles to the cold or to the hot side can be achieved by adding specific electrolytes and exploiting the additional thermoelectric effect stemming from their differential thermal responsiveness.
In electrolyte solutions, the differential migration of the ionic species induced by the presence of a thermal gradient leads to the buildup la steady-state electric field. Similarly to what happens for the Seebeck effect in solids, the sample behaves therefore as a thermocell. Here, we provide clear evidence for the presence of thermoelectric fields in liquids by detecting and quantifying their strong effects on colloid thermophoresis. Specifically, by contrasting the effects of the addition of NaCI or NaOH on the Soret effect of micellar solutions of sodium dodecyl sulfate, we show that the presence of highly thermally responsive ions such as OH- may easily lead to the reversal of particle motion. Our experimental results can he quantitatively explained by a simple model that takes into account interparticle interactions and explicitly includes the micellar electrophoretic transport driven by such a thermally generated electric field. The chance of carefully controlling colloid thermophoresis by tuning the solvent electrolyte composition may prove to be very useful in microfluidic applications and field-flow fractionation methods.
For many physical, chemical and biological measurements, temperature is a crucial parameter to control. In particular, the recent development of microreactors and chip-based technologies requires integrated thermostatic systems. However, the requirements of disposability and visual inspection of a device under a microscope cannot accommodate equipment such as external heaters. By exploiting a silver-filled epoxy that can be injected and solidified in a microfluidic chip, we demonstrate a simple and inexpensive design of a conductive path, which allows heating by the Joule effect of both sides of a microchannel. In addition to permitting the maintenance of a constant temperature along the channel walls, our method can control the temperature gradient across the channel, thus enabling non-equilibrium studies in a microfluidic geometry.
Measuring the concentration profiles induced by gravity settling is known to be an efficient route to obtain the equation of state of a colloidal suspension, to inspect the fine details of the phase diagram and to provide clues on the nature of metastable phases. Here we show that a careful analysis of the transient settling profiles may add valuable information for what concerns colloidal hydrodynamics. In particular, we show that a numerical inversion of a kinetic profile yields the full hydrodynamic factor K(Phi) up to the concentration of the original unsettled suspension, and that the dilute part of the profile yields a 'dynamic' gravitation length also related to K(Phi). These predictions are tested on a suspension of monodisperse hard and sticky spheres. Finally we describe and test a novel optical method, allowing us to measure sedimentation profiles on a wide class of colloidal systems, even in the presence of a noticeable turbidity.
Thermophoresis is particle drift induced by a temperature gradient. By measuring the full temperature dependence of this effect for polystyrene latex suspensions, we show that the thermophoretic mobility (or "thermal diffusion coefficient") D(T) is basically independent on particle size, in particular, when the interfacial properties of the colloidal particles are carefully standardized by adsorbing a surfactant layer on the particle surface. Even more, all investigated systems show values of D(T) which are very close to those measured for simple micellar solutions of the adsorbed surfactant. Our findings could be of relevance for downsizing microfluidics to the nanometric range.
Thermophoresis, akin to thermal diffusion in simple fluid mixtures, consists of particle drift induced by a temperature gradient. Notwithstanding its practical interest, the dependence of thermophoretic effects on particle size R is still theoretically and experimentally debated. By performing measurements of water-in-oil microemulsion droplets with tunable size, we show that the thermal diffusion coefficient, at least for a suspension of small particles in a nonpolar solvent, does not appreciably depend on R.