Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Illinois

Anton Paar, Rogers Lab install new state-of-the-art research instrument

The University of Illinois Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering are pleased to announce that Anton Paar, a leading laboratory equipment company which makes high end instrumentation for material characterization, will provide state-of-the-art instruments to two faculty members to support their work on advancing fundamental and applied research in the field of rheology.

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Simon Rogers, members of his research group and Anton Paar officials gather around the new rheometer.

Anton Paar is loaning Illinois researchers Simon Rogers and Randy Ewoldt each with a top-of-the-line rheometer which will be fully loaded with accessories to allow maximum flexibility to characterize different types of complex fluids such as polymer solutions, colloidal suspensions, micellar solutions, and surfactant monolayers.

“The Rogers lab is extremely grateful to Anton Paar for the confidence they have expressed in our future with this agreement. We will be pushing rheological research forward, in our own little way, with this instrument and the support from Anton Paar,” said Simon Rogers, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. His research group investigates the fundamental physics behind time dependent phenomena exhibited by soft condensed matter systems under deformation for biomedical, energy, and environment applications.

A celebration to mark the partnership was held April 3. Anton Paar personnel spent the week installing the rheometers and offering training and demonstrations of the instruments’ capabilities.

“The new equipment brings incredible capabilities to our lab, which we plan to leverage and build upon with several research projects,” said Randy Ewoldt, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering. The Ewoldt group studies rheology, non-Newtonian fluid mechanics, mathematical modeling, and design involving soft materials. His work often involves interdisciplinary collaborations and is a combination of experiment and theory.

Anton Paar, which was established in 1922, develops, produces and distributes laboratory instruments as well as process measuring systems and provides custom-tailored automation and robotics solutions worldwide.

The company was looking to collaborate with researchers who “‘think outside the box’ for novel new ways to use research rheometers, especially folks who have a vision for new rheological test method developments which can impact both fundamental and applied research. Both Ewoldt and Rogers are collaborative researchers, and their work in rheology has a number of diverse applications ranging from biomedical, energy, and environmental to designing of soft materials, said Abhi Shetty, Lead Scientist at Anton Paar.

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A close-up of the rheometer.

Ewoldt and Rogers’ labs will receive MCR 702 TwinDrive rheometers, valued at approximately $600,000 total. This is the most advanced rheometer to date, according to the company. The model boasts several advantages, such as allowing researchers to perform rheological tests with two torque transducers and drive units at once. Operating two Electronically Commutated (or EC) motors at once opens up new possibilities, such as counter-rotation. This mode is an invaluable option for microscopy applications, according to Abhi Shetty, Lead Scientist at Anton Paar. Both researchers will receive the microscopy set-ups.

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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department Head Dr. Paul Kenis, Mechanical Science and Engineering Department Head Anthony Jacobi, Randy Ewoldt and Simon Rogers with members of the Anton Paar team.

Rogers said some of his current experiments take a lot of time and effort, and with the new instrument, researchers will be able to “be more productive faster.”
“We’ll also be able to perform tests that just aren’t possible on other instruments,” he added.

The equipment will be loaned to the university for three years, with the possibility of extending the term for another two years. As part of the agreement, the researchers will conduct beta testing of new accessories.