The deposition of particle-laden coatings is key to a number of modern technologies, ranging from semiconductor electronics to bioengineering. In the thriving field of regenerative medicine, deposition processes to manufacture artificial skin in vitro turn out to be particularly challenging. Because skin is composed of several layers with specific cell distributions, space-resolved deposition of cells has to be achieved to obtain viable tissues. However, the delicate nature of living cells and biomaterials strongly limits the number of available techniques, thereby hindering further advances in the field. In this context, COCONUTE emerges as a timely and essential initiative to adapt a well-known technique, dipcoating, to meet the challenges posed by current skin manufacturing technologies. I will investigate, using theoretical and experimental tools, key unknown aspects of the physics of dip-coating in the presence of two liquids, which may have particles in suspension. Gaining further understanding of the physics, I will be able to create compound coatings exhibiting well-controlled arrangements of particles. These particles will have physical properties similar to skin cells to guarantee the applicability of the results to tissue-on-a-chip setups. Not only the time to implement this project is now: the group and supervisors with whom I will carry out my research make a perfect ecosystem for me to turn the project into a success. Being a Soft Matter physicist by training, I will work in a group where fluid mechanicians collaborate routinely with experts in tissue engineering. Thus, the inherent multidisciplinary of the project will allow me to get training in the above-mentioned areas, while also sharing my expertise with the host group. This project will reinforce my chances of becoming an independent researcher in the fields of Soft Matter and Fluid Mechanics, with the focus on state-of-the-art bioengineering applications.
soft condensed matter; fluid dynamics; coating; films and interfaces