U-Today Science & Technology Magazine #5

Page 23


Master of bubbles

David Fernández Rivas Text: Rense Kuipers Photo: Gijs van Ouwerkerk

Making something out of seemingly nothing definitely applies to our rising star, Assistant Professor David Fernández Rivas. From his Cuban roots to getting a PhD at the UT and starting up spin-offs in vastly different directions. For Fernández Rivas, it all began with the fundamental manipulation of bubbles, and he has never stopped to pursue a personal mission to immediately impact society with his research. During his nuclear engineering studies at InSTEC (Havana), David

tial applications, like administering insulin or painkillers.’

Fernández Rivas got a glimpse of what academic and social life

The technology could also make Fernández Rivas a true Ink

was like in Europe. In spite of the strict Cuban regime regulations,

Master, since it could be used for tattooing. ‘It has the potential to

he managed to work part-time for the UT as a PhD candidate

change a five thousand years old technology, by being less painful

since 2007, and his thesis titled ‘Taming Cavitation Bubbles’

and more precise. We can use it to improve the lives of cancer

was published in 2012. Nowadays, as a tenure track Assistant

patients, like tattooing nipples after a breast mastectomy.’

Professor, it’s still all about bubbles for Fernández Rivas.

In the end, it’s all about helping people and making an immedi-

Some colleagues call him a master of bubbles, since his research

ate impact for Fernández Rivas. ‘I am not someone who wants

is based on the manipulation of bubbles in liquid, to the point

to wait for twenty-five years before seeing my research being

that he has shown that it’s possible to make them take on a

applied. My drive is to solve problems as soon as possible. There’s

square shape. He went even further and made them pop out

nothing better than conducting exciting science that society truly

from music instruments with ultrasound technology.

benefits from.’

But that’s just showing off the cool stuff. Fernández Rivas knows there are plenty of societally relevant applications in manipulating bubbles. In 2013 he co-founded the spin-off BuBclean. The

Our ‘Rising Star’ David Fernández Rivas:

company produces bags with a special pattern on the inside, that

2004 Suma cum laude diploma in nuclear engineering at InSTEC, Cuba

create more microbubbles when they’re in an ultrasonic bath, thereby cleaning products like laboratory and medical equipment

2012 PhD degree at MESA+ Institute, University of Twente.

even better.

2013 Founded the spin-off BuBclean

Since that venture has been going steady, the researcher looked

2014 Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) at the MESA+

into another way of using bubbles. So, he is creating another spin-off, InkBeams, in which Fernández Rivas and his team use the principle of thermocavitation to develop a needle-free injection method. ‘By using a laser, we create a bubble within a fluid,

Mesoscale Chemical Systems group 2016 Appointed Research Affiliate at MIT, Department of Mechanical Engineering

and as the bubble grows, it pushes a small liquid drop that can

2017 Won the KIJK Magazine Best Tech Idea award

be injected in the skin of people. This method has a lot of poten-

for his other spin-off, InkBeams




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