Mechanical Engineering ETDs

Publication Date



Recently the extrication and purification of important biomolecules, especially proteins, has been a topic of great interest. Common systems used in the purification and extraction of these important biological molecules includes gel electrophoresis, various forms of chromatography, and capillary electrophoresis type devices. These systems, while achieving a good amount of success, each possess inherent properties that can be improved upon. They usually necessitate comparatively large laboratory footprints, require high voltages to operate (in the tens of kilovolts), and call for relatively large sample sizes in order to perform these tasks. All of these shortcomings can be addressed by performing these separations and purifications in smaller, nanofluidic based systems. This dissertation presents research conducted to explore how fluids, electrical fields, and dissolved analytes of interest (including biomolecules) behave in nanoconfined systems. It presents the recent advances in fabrication that allow for such studies to be embarked upon. It also presents various experimental methodologies for performing investigational work within nanofluidic systems. These include the development of observation techniques, the various methods of controlling nanofluidic transport, buffers, surfactants, and analyte selection. Several techniques for performing separations that are unique to nanofluidic systems are explored. Finally, theoretical analytic models are developed to characterize the nanofluidic transport properties observed in these systems. This work has tendered many groundbreaking advances in the field of separations and in nanofluidics. It will provide the groundwork for any future nanofluidic studies.


Biomolecules--Separation, Microfluidics, Microfluidic devices, Nanotechnology.

Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Mechanical Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Truman, C. Randall

Second Committee Member

Petsev, Dimiter


National Science Foundation, Keck Foundation

Document Type