Villanova University Associate Professor Qianhong Wu, PhD, Department of Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded a $279,993 three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for “Lift Generation in a Functionalized Supra Molecular Porous Layer, From Red Cells to Super Lubrication.” Inspired by the frictionless motion of red blood cells over the endothelial glycocalyx layer (EGL) that covers the inner surface of blood vessel, Dr. Wu is investigating fluid flow in a functionalized soft porous layer. The ultimate goal of his research is the design a new type of bearing that would utilize super lubrication with vastly increased hydrodynamic lift and reduced drag. By reducing sliding frictions, tremendous energy savings can be achieved.
“With the assistance of modern supra molecular chemistry, we are developing a unique biomimetic approach to examine two fundamental problems in fluid dynamics: lift generation in soft porous media on different scales, and the mechanism that determines its structural integrity,” explains Dr. Wu. Circumventing the extreme difficulty in performing experiments with living organisms, his combined research plan integrates theoretical, experimental and computational approaches. In addition to impacting energy efficiency for frictionless flow, this study also will provide critical insights on the biophysics study of the EGL, which plays an important role in cardiovascular systems.
Dr. Wu is the director and founder of the College of Engineering’s Cellular Biomechanics and Sport Science Laboratory where he is working on a number of projects, including cellular mechanotransduction of human endothelial cells with applications to hypertension; patient-specific fluid dynamic analysis for renal resistances; a smart brain model to study the damage caused by sports impacts; and lift mechanics of skiing or snowboarding. Dr. Wu also conducts research on porous media flow and heat and mass transfer.