Dr. Hanieh Bazyar – Next generation membranes for advanced separation
By Femke Janssen
Hanieh completed her PhD at the group of Soft matter, Fluidics and Interfaces (SFI), University of Twente during which she developed novel polymeric porous membranes for oily wastewater treatment. She also performed fundamental studies (using the Microfluidics platform) to understand the mass transport, fluid flow and the interactions throughout the membrane pores. As Hanieh states, “in my opinion, fundamental study is the building block of any research work and I would like to include that also in my own research lines.”
While she enjoys being directly involved in the research in the laboratory, she is also excited to supervise students and PhDs. Furthermore, she plans to become involved with teaching- starting with guest lectures and eventually creating a new course on interface science and membrane separation.
Membrane Separation Technology
The overall theme of her research is about membrane separation technology for different applications ranging from wastewater treatment and gas separation, to biomedical applications such as drug delivery or diagnosis. Hanieh’s research themes may be broadly stated as the following
Next generation “bio-based” membranes obtained from waste-derived polymers
Petroleum-based non-biodegradable polymers account for almost 95% of the total materials used for membrane fabrication. Given the impending energy crisis, focus on sustainability and green transformation of membrane technology is imperative. Hanieh’s interest is specifically about developing carbon-neutral membrane separation processes through bio-based polymers obtained from organic waste or wastewater. The graphical abstract of two of her projects are
The main challenges of developing bio-based membranes are membrane stability specifically in aqueous environments, and understanding the interactions inside the membrane pore during the separation process.
Novel separation-sensing Point of Care (POC) devices, based on stimuli-responsive polymers, for biomedical applications
Fully 3D-printed membranes from both bio- and petroleum-based polymers, as a sustainable alternative to the conventional membrane fabrication procedure.
PhD position availible!
Currently, Hanieh has a PhD position available concerning development of a novel separation-sensing device for bio-medical applications. This device is fabricated with a sensor, namely, “micro-gel-based etalon”. Etalons are 1D optical materials, composed of two gold mirrors, separated by a layer of stimuli-responsive microgels (see the schematic below showing the assembly).
Etalon structure: two thin Au layers sandwiching a layer of pNIPAm-based microgels 
When the assemblies are immersed in water, they show specific colour (observed visually and spectrally), which could be tuned by temperature and pH. The colour tunability is attributed to the direct modulation of the mirror-mirror spacing because of the size change of the microgels with temperature .
In this project, a sealed device is to be fabricated such that the lower and upper gold mirrors are substituted with transparent wafer membranes that enclose the said microgels. The membranes enable the separation process and the microgel is responsible for sensing the release of molecules. The final end application is in drug delivery or biomedical diagnosis.
It’s indeed a multidisciplinary project which requires knowledge of fluid flow, transport phenomena, chemistry, as well as biology. The candidate doesn’t need to master all these fields. This project will be done in collaboration with the Chemistry Department at University of Alberta and Else Kooi Lab at TU/Delft. In future, partners who are specialised in biology and pharmacology will also join.
The candidate can start during Autumn/Winter 2021 and, if needed, be flexible to travel to Canada during the PhD work.
On behalf of the students of EFPT, we extend a warm welcome (although delayed) to Hanieh and wish her all success in her research!
 Zhang et. al., Optical Devices Constructed from Multiresponsive Microgels, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 4827 –4831.
 Sorrell et. al., Color Tunable Poly ( N -Isopropylacrylamide)- co -Acrylic Acid Microgel–Au Hybrid Assemblies, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2011, 21, 425–433.