Chemical Engineering Student Receives $225,000 NSF STTR Grant
Jeevan Maddala, a Texas Tech student graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy in chemical engineering in August, was recently awarded a $225,000 National Science Foundation Small Business Technology Transfer (NSF STTR) grant to help commercialize his doctoral work. The project, titled "Development of a Computational Tool for Modeling, Simulation, and Design of Next Generation Discrete Droplet Microfluidic Systems," is a collaboration with Dr. Raghunathan Rengasamy, a professor of chemical engineering.
Maddala came to Texas Tech in the fall of 2009 with the hopes of developing new technology and commercializing it through a startup company. Working with Rengasamy and Dr. Siva Vanapalli, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, he developed an interest in microfluidic devices. Building on his experiences in his research, Maddala had an idea to create software that would allow him to design microfluidic devices on the computer. In this way, he could fine-tune the properties and functionality of a device easily, addressing the specifications of a scientist or a particular need virtually. By building the devices on the computer, he could develop very complex and large devices and then manufacture them with a tool like a three-dimensional printer. Maddala's software idea would help in the research and development of microfluidic devices for industry and research institutes, bridging the gap between the end product and the design process.
The NSF grant will allow him to focus for the next year on the development and demonstration of a software system. His system will allow a user to specify parameters on the virtual microfluidic device and prepare a device for fabrication. If successful, Maddala will move forward with further enhancements to the software system and the development of prototypes. He hopes to eventually build a fully automated system that will design and physically construct highly complex droplet-based microfluidic platforms, starting from just a design concept of a user.