The Royal Society’s University Research Fellowship (URF) scheme aims to provide outstanding scientists, who have the potential to become leaders in their chosen fields, with the opportunity to build an independent research career.
The scheme is extremely competitive and URFs are expected to be strong candidates for permanent posts in universities at the end of their fellowships.
In addition to his role as Fellow and Tutor in Engineering at Wadham, Alfonso is working as a University Lecturer in Fluid Mechanics in the Department of Engineering and his research project focuses on ‘liquid droplet generation and deposition’.
His study of liquid drops and the break-up of jets is important in several natural (physical and biological) and practical (technological) contexts, including defensive and hunting mechanisms of some animals (e.g. velvet worms, bombardier beetles, archerfish), dispersion of liquid drugs into droplets for inhalation, crop and paint spraying, the manufacturing of biomaterials, and inkjet printing.
Dr Castrejon-Pita said: “With the advent of printed electronics and 3D printing, inkjet printing technology is expected to revolutionise certain aspects of manufacturing in the near future. Most current studies of this topic aim to improve the control over the position, number and directionality of droplets and their (undesired) satellites. In most cases this is achieved by adapting current printing techniques and not by tackling the problem from its roots: the dynamical behaviour of the fluid. On scales of a few micrometers (as in current print-heads), fluid properties like viscosity, surface tension, and elasticity are expected to dominate the dynamics of the flow, but the exact dynamics remain unknown, at the very early stages of understanding, or as untested theories. From the scientific point of view, this project aims for a better understanding of the governing laws behind the formation, evolution and break-up of a liquid jet into droplets.”
The long term objective of the research is to apply the results to solve technological and industrial problems of printing processes, with very clear and immediate benefits to industry and the end-users of their products. Academic beneficiaries would be researchers working on micro-fluids, drops and bubbles, splash, fluid deposition, and mixing, by means of articles in academic journals and conference papers.
Dr Alfonso Castrejon-Pita added: “I have carried out investigations in a variety of contexts, always applying my knowledge in an interdisciplinary manner. These have included studies on the behaviour of viscous and viscoelastic oscillatory fluids, acoustics and thermo-acoustics, magneto-hydrodynamic, plasmas, nonlinear dynamics, fractals, chaos, geophysical fluids, and liquid jets and drops. They were carried out in collaboration with several groups based in the UK, Spain, France, Mexico the US and Germany and funded by several organisations in the form of studentships, awards and research grants.”
Before joining Wadham, Dr Castrejon-Pita was a Research Associate at the Inkjet Research Centre of the University of Cambridge. He moved to the UK in 2004 to read for a DPhil in Physics at the University of Oxford, holding a prestigious Dorothy Hodgkin Postgraduate award. He continued his studies in experimental fluids as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Oxford. As a result Dr Castrejon-Pita developed an experiment that, for the first time, demonstrated chaos synchronisation in fluid flows, with greater implications to atmospheric dynamics such as weather forecast. Several prizes were awarded to him during this time.
He obtained BSc and MSc with honours at the National University of Mexico, and has valuable teaching and supervision experience.
The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, as it has been since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.