Carnegie Mellon Engineering

Center for Complex Fluids Engineering Overview

Complex fluids are ubiquitous in industry and nature, making complex fluids engineering central to product design and processing in the pharmaceutical, food, personal care product, biomaterials, agrochemical, printing, coating, ceramic, mining and petrochemical industries, among many others. It is central to the design and processing of nanomaterials and plays a critical role in the development of more environmentally benign technologies that replace organic solvents with aqueous fluids or that use non-covalent assemblies to provide functionality normally provided by complex chemical compounds. Complex fluids include solutions of polymers or surfactants, emulsions, foams and liquid suspensions of colloidal nanoparticles or microparticles. What makes a fluid a complex fluid is an exquisite sensitivity of its macroscopic properties (viscosity, for example) to strong, often long-range interactions among colloidal constituents dissolved or suspended in the fluid. Committing to the challenge of developing complex fluid-based products is amply rewarded by the attainment of materials with precisely tunable rheological properties, unique phase behaviors, large solubilizing powers or unique nano- and microstructures.


Research Mission

The Center for Complex Fluids Engineering is dedicated to understanding the nanoscale structures and interactions that enable the design of novel fluid and soft material systems with tunable mechanical, chemical, optical, electronic and biological characteristics.


Educational Mission

The educational arm of the center is the Colloids, Polymers, and Surfaces Program. Established in response to critical needs expressed by local industry, the CPS Program provides undergraduate and graduate education for students to master the complexities of macromolecular and dispersed material systems that are encountered throughout the chemical and materials processing industries.


Research Thrusts

  • Colloidal and Surface Forces
  • Surfactant and Polymer Self-Assembly in Solution
  • Hierarchical Assembly of Functional Soft Materials
  • Self- and Directed-Assembly of Colloidal Particles
  • Complex Fluid Interfaces
  • Electrokinetics
  • Biomembranes and Biointerfaces
  • Microfluidic Technologies
  • Nanomaterial Transport in Environmental Systems