Basic research translated to solving medical problems one device at a time

More information

Our group employs and creates novel engineering and fabrication approaches to overcome longstanding problems in medicine. We employ acoustofluidics micro/nanofabrication methods, and new fundamental physical phenomena along the way to applications. We're happy to collaborate with academic and industrial colleagues, and are fortunate to have among the best medical, fabrication, and testing facilities in the world.

We also host faculty, students, and industry employees.

Acoustofluidics information is here.

Information on our COVID-19 related research is here.

Gifts in support of our research work may now be provided here.

We have no PhD or post-doctoral openings at this time.

Recent highlights

200 fL droplet manipulation

Transport, splitting, merging, and mixing of 200 fL droplets now possible in nanoslit channels using surface acoustic waves. (appearing in Advanced Science)

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Submicron gas vesicle dynamics

Using laser Doppler vibrometry to measure the real-time buckling and collapse of 250-nm gas vesicles, and their resonance behavior at 1.02 GHz.

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Silent underwater propulsion

Introducing a new method for measuring the output force of acoustic streaming, and a method for truly silent fluid propulsion.

Acoustogeometric streaming

A new form of acoustic streaming that couples the deformation of the surrounding channel with the acoustic wave to produce high pressures and rapid fluid flow.

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Controlled droplet ejection

Ejecting droplets on demand at up to 45 degrees from an orifice via surface acoustic waves, with precise and linear control of ejection angle.


Making rechargeable lithium metal batteries practical

A new method to enable rapid (>3C) charging of lithium metal batteries to over 250 cycles. Also works for lithium ion batteries.

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Inexpensive ventilators for ARDS/COVID-19

We report a simple, bag-based ventilator for COVID-19 patients designed specifically to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome with a much wider range of operating capability than most “inexpensive” ventilators.

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Handheld centrifugation and separation

Microliter ultrafast centrifuge platform for size-based particle and cell separation and extraction using novel omnidirectional spiral surface acoustic waves.

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Practical handheld circuits for acoustofluidics

After 20 years of difficulties in producing handheld acoustofluidics devices, we now demonstrate the ability to produce battery-powered lab-on-a-chip devices, nebulizers, and acoustofluidics devices.

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Detaching cells via acoustic waves

In a joint project with Keio University, we’ve discovered it is possible to detach cells without trypsin from adherent cell cultures.

Our research group

Current members and former members

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Dr. Jeremy Orosco

Jeremy is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) at University of California San Diego (UCSD). Being a southern California native and avid waterman, he settled on UCSD's excellent MAE program for his B.S. (2014), M.S. (2016), and Ph.D. (2019). The latter two of these were funded by the San Diego Fellowship and President's Dissertation Fellowship, and his doctoral thesis "Optical and Radiative Properties of Solid Media: Analysis and Modeling with Nonlocal Differential Operators" was developed under the excellent tutelage of Professor Carlos F. M. Coimbra. At MADLab, he applies his knowledge of nonlocal calculus toward a theory of microscale capillary phenomenon and a revision to the classical description of atomization. More information on his research can be found at his personal website.

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Jiyang Mei

Jiyang is a graduate student from the Department of Material Science and Engineering. He received his Bachelor's degree from University of Science and Technology of China. And he obtained his Master's degree in physics before switching to the current department at UC, San Diego. Working on the surface acoustic wave devices with waveguide structures, which is a conduction metal film that can confine the propagation of waves on the substrate, he tries to integrate his research with interdisciplinary fields, such as biology and medical devices. Also, he enjoys and plays basketball.

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Shuai Zhang

Shuai is a graduate student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UC San Diego
Undergraduate school: Beijing institute of Technology, Material Science and Engineering
Master: UCSD, Material Science and Engineering
Research interests: Mechanical properties of cell membrane and droplet atomization
Hobbies: Calligraphy, Clarinet, Reading, Eating Cookies.

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Bill Connacher

Bill is a Ph.D. student from the San Francisco Bay Area. He majored in Engineering Physics at UC Berkeley and did research in Professor Albert Pisano's former MEMS lab at Berkeley. Following graduation he took a research position in the tribology section at Argonne National Lab working under Dr. Ali Erdemir on wear resistant coatings for metal surfaces. At this point he decided he needed to pursue a Ph.D. in order to increase his impact on science and technology. In the interim he worked for a small startup in Silicon Valley, Glint Photonics, where he primarily worked on electrowettting based micro-opto-fluidic devices. As a graduate student he is excited to pursue research that couples engineering expertise with the strong biomedical community here at UCSD. He is currently working on microfluidic devices actuated by surface acoustic waves (SAWs) motivated by medical needs.

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Aditya Vasan

Aditya is a PhD student in the department of mechanical engineering at UC San Diego. He graduated with a masters in mechanical engineering from UCLA in 2015, after which he worked at Abbott’s (formerly St. Jude Medical) cardiovascular division in Sylmar, California. His work at UCLA involved the development of a ventricular shunt to treat patients with hydrocephalus. At Abbott, he developed novel processes for the manufacture of the worlds first smartphone compatible implantable cardiac monitor, Confirm Rx, as well as helped design a delivery tool to facilitate the implant. The device received FDA approval in May 2017. His research interests lie in the field of medical devices and diagnostics. Specifically, he is interested in clinical applications of MEMS and surface acoustic wave devices and the potential of using soft robotic technologies to provide minimally invasive therapy.

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Phuong Truong

Phuong is a 5th year Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC San Diego. She received her B.S. (2016) and M.S (2018) from UC San Diego in the fields of structural engineering and mechanical engineering, respectively. Her research interests include sensing, sensors, soft materials, wearable sensors, and remote health monitoring/devices. In the last seven years, her work has been focused on thin-film interference-based optical pressure sensors and ocular health monitoring devices. Presently, she is developing a non-nutritive suckling device to characterize intraoral pressure and suckling efficacy in infants.

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Jackelin Amorin Cotrina

Jackelin is a PhD student in the department of Mechanical Engineering at UC San Diego. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S in Bioengineering in 2017 and in her undergraduate she did research in fabrication of microfluidic medical devices in professor Dorian Liepman's lab. Her research interests include surgical device R&D, prosthetic design, microfluidic diagnostic devices and soft robotics.

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Kha Nguyen

Kha is a newly admitted Ph.D. student in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC San Diego. She graduated from UC San Diego with a B.S. in Bioegnineering in 2021. During her undergraduate study, she did research in diverse fields, including designing, rapid prototyping, and evaluating prosthetics for quadrupeds and humans, designing and implementing 3D speckled imaging for strain measurements in torsion, analyzing retinal implants data, and creating an automatic microfluidic system for brain and retinal organoid culturing. Her research interest includes retinal implants, ocular health monitoring systems, wearable sensors, soft robotics, and surgical devices R&D. In her free time, she loves learning about skincare, hedgehogs, how to deadlift correctly, and decoding the latest memes.

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Professor James Friend

James leads the Medically Advanced Devices Laboratory in the Center for Medical Devices at the University of California-San Diego. He is a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He has over 270 peer-reviewed research publications, including 179 journal papers and nine book chapters, and 35 patents in process or granted, completed 34 postgraduate students and supervised 23 postdoctoral staff, and been awarded over $29 million in competitive grant-based research funding over his career. He is a fellow of the IEEE. More information here.

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Amihai Horesh (Researcher, Volcani Institute, Israel)

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Gopesh Tilvawala (Research Staff, Abbott Medical)

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An Huang (CEO, SonoCharge, San Diego)

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Naiqing Zhang (Beijing, China)

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Kenjiro Takemura (Prof., Keio University, Japan)

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Morteza Miansari (Babol Noshirvani University of Technology, Iran)

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Cécile Floer (Prof., Uni Lorraine, Nancy, France)

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Edward Aminov (Apple Inc)

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Lonnie Petersen (Prof., UCSD Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

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Yuta Kurashina (Prof., Tokyo Institute of Technology)

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Sean Collignon



The 100 sqm (1050 sqft) MADLab laboratory includes fabrication, prototyping, metrology, and testing facilities. We make daily use of the extraordinary NANO3Qualcomm Institute, and ACTRI core facilities. During COVID19, we use a booking system here.

  Fabrication facilities: laser machining

We have a customized Optec Lightshot excimer (193nm, 25 J/cm^2) + femtosecond (1030nm, 20W) five-axis CNC, arbitrary mask laser machining station. The system is on loan from Optec, and is capable of machining lithium niobate, glass, all polymers, and metals. It is capable of achieving feature sizes smaller than 750nm. John Roy, an experienced local representative is often on site for training and advice. cleanroom equipment for polymer microfabrication, including a large fume hood, argon-purged glove box, class 1000 laminar flow cabinet with UV shielding for photoresist work, vacuum and dessicator stations for polymer microfabrication, extrusion, plasma etching, spin coating, casting, and integration.

  Fabrication facilities: microfluidics, microscale soft robotics, and integrated microelectromechanics devices

The lab has four microassembly/microscopy stations complete with pantograph micromanipulators and custom ultrasound-based pick-and-place manipulators. We also have two microsoldering stations with wave and SMD device soldering systems., and a microassembly and testing station with pantograph micromanipulators. The lab also has a DC-2.4GHz four-port network analyzer and numerous oscilloscopes, signal generators, and amplifiers.

  Metrology: high-speed videography, vibration and velocity measurement, and pressure and acoustic field measurement

The lab has a 9 kHz–2.4 GHz scanning laser Doppler vibrometer, Polytec UHF-120SV, able to measure 9 kHz to 2.4 GHz acoustic wave propagation upon micro to submicron devices and a laser Doppler tachometer, Canon LV-100Z, able to measure in-plane motion to 10 m/s and 2 kHz. Due to excellent support by Polytec Irvine, the laboratory has regular access to other vibrometer and surface metrology capabilities as needed.

Wel also have a Malvern Spraytec atomized mist sizer with fixturing for nebulizers and fuel injectors.

We have fluorescent and bright-field high-speed (Photron UX100+Infinity TS) video microscopes; and microfluidics control and operation equipment (ELVEFLOW); an inverted phase contrast, epifluorescence and TIRF microscope (AmScope).

Our lab also has extensive electrical test gear, from network analyzers to lock-in amplifiers, RF arbitrary signal generators, and amplifiers.

From August 2019, the lab will have a customized transmission digital holographic high-speed (1.2 million fps, Photron NOVA) microscope system from Lyncee-tec capable of providing real-time (not stroboscopic) processed data on surface deformation to 3 µm lateral resolution and 10 nm vibration displacement resolution over the entire field of view of the microscope.


Funding Organizations
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Helping train the next generation of engineering and scientific leaders

The group serves UCSD by teaching engineering design, dynamics, structural and fluid mechanics, acoustofluidics, micro to nano-scale fabrication, and medical device engineering courses at the undergraduate and graduate level.


Principal Investigator: Professor James Friend 
Phone/Zoom: +1-858-26o-95o8 • 
Personal Assistant: Lusia Veksler 
Center for Medical Devices
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering • Jacobs School of Engineering
Department of Surgery • School of Medicine 
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive MC0411
La Jolla, CA 92093-0411

Offices: 344K/345C&F Structural and Materials Engineering Building 
Lab: 320 Structural and Materials Engineering Building 
Maps to parking, laboratories and offices.

Shipping address:
University of California, San Diego
Attn: Prof James Friend, (858) 260-9508
320 SME MC0411
7835 Trade Street
San Diego CA 92121-2460

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