Acevedo Wins Outstanding Student Paper Award at IEEE MEMS Conference for 3D Nanoprinting Breakthrough

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Mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate, Ruben Acevedo, won the “Outstanding Student Paper Award” for an oral presentation at this year’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (IEEE MEMS 2021).  The paper, “3D Nanoprinted External Microfluidic Structures via Ex Situ Direct Laser Writing,” explored a new strategy for additively manufacturing accessible fluidic systems with 100-nanometer-scale resolutions.

The annual IEEE MEMS conference is considered to be the premiere international venue for the microsystems community, with acceptance rates around 40% overall, but less than 10% for oral presentations. 

While this year’s conference went virtual due to COVID-19, researchers around the world submitted over 500 research papers.  From those submissions, only ten were nominated by the Technical Program Committee as finalists, and only three final awardees.

Acevedo’s oral presentation during which the UMD team demonstrated the use of their 3D nanoprinting strategy for manufacturing microinjection needles.

3D nanoprinted microfluidics structuresAcevedo’s work represents a multi-disciplinary effort within Assistant Professor Ryan Sochol’s Bioinspired Advanced Manufacturing (BAM) Laboratory. The team contributing to the work includes mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Ziteng (Jack) Wen, bioengineering Ph.D. candidate Michael Restaino, undergraduate researchers Ian Rosenthal (mechanical engineering) and Noemi Gonzalez (bioengineering), as well as high school student, Emmett Freeman.  Together, they demonstrated a number of proof-of-concept microfluidic examples, including 3D University of Maryland (UMD) and Testudo structures as well as various monuments in Washington, D.C.     

The motivation for the project came out of discussions with Dr. Kinneret Rand-Yadin, founder and CEO of biotech startup, SeeTrue Technology, LLC.  “Dr. Rand-Yadin proposed this idea of extending our 3D nanoprinting approach to manufacture new classes of microinjection needles,” Sochol explained. “But no one had ever printed externally accessible 3D microfluidic structures like that before.” 

After some promising preliminary results together, SeeTrue Technology and Sochol have been awarded Phase-I funding from both the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and Maryland Industrial Partnerships to support the commercialization of their technology.

This is the second Outstanding Student Paper Award for Sochol’s group in the last two years. Bioengineering Ph.D. graduate, Dr. Andrew C. Lamont, previously received the award at IEEE MEMS 2019 for his paper “Rapid Multi-Material Direct Laser Writing.” 

The team’s next steps are to begin testing the 3D nanoprinted microinjection needles with living zebrafish embryos in collaboration with Prof. Rachel Brewster at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. 

In the meantime, Acevedo plans to defend his Ph.D. Thesis in June 2021, and has accepted an offer to work at Boston Consulting Group.

This research was supported in part by U.S. NSF Awards 1943356 and 1938527, and Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) Award 6523.

Published February 1, 2021