Document Type


Date of Award

Summer 8-31-2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Zhiming Ji

Second Advisor

Timothy Nam Chang

Third Advisor

R. S. Sodhi

Fourth Advisor

Chao Zhu

Fifth Advisor

Edwin Hou


Liquid dispensing in the order of pico-liter has become more and more important in biology, electronics and micro-electronic-mechanical-system (MEMS) during the past two decades due to the rapid progress of researches on the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) microarray, compact and low-cost direct write technology (DWT), organic semiconductors and nano-particles.

The existing approaches, commercialized or experimental, to liquid dispensing in minute amounts have one common shortcoming: open loop control, i.e., they have no direct control on the quality of dispensed liquid. In contrast, the SmartPin has intrinsic self-sensing capability to not only control the process of liquid dispensing, but also the results of the dispensed liquid in real time. The dual purpose fiber optics sensor/plunger is able to detect the status of liquid morphology under dispensing, in real time, by the internal light sensor and control both the amount and the manner of liquid dispensing by its plunger-like movements.

This dissertation work has implemented, with the SmartPin technology, a frilly automated DNA microarrayer based on the first generation prototype developed at NJIT's Real Time Control Laboratory. This new DNA microarrayer fulfills all requirements in each step of DNA microarray fabrication, such as thorough cleaning to avoid cross contamination and clogging, aspiration of tiny amount of DNA samples, spotting on multiple slides, and flexible in stream change of DNA samples. Experiment results shows that this DNA microarrayer compares favorably with its commercialized counterpart OmniGrid 100 with SMP3 pins. As a verification of robust implementation and on-the-fly control of spot morphology, high volume of spots (120 K) have been made, from which the corresponding experiment data has been obtained, categorized and normalized as template database. In addition, this dissertation research explores the patterned microline-drawing capability of the SmartPin. Two approaches, spot sequence and liquid-column sweeping, are proposed and implemented. Experiment results show that the SmartPin is promising in the area of patterning of large area organic electronics. Besides the experimental research, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation of the liquid dispensing process has been done by utilizing GAMBIT and FLUENT, which are state-of-the-art computer programs for modeling fluid flow and heat transfer in complex geometries. The CFD simulation results, validated by experimental results, offer a guide to the design of control system for different tasks of liquid dispensation, such as fabrication of protein microarray.



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