Reader in Engineering Materials
Academic Division: Mechanics, Materials and Design
Research group: Biomechanics
Telephone: +44 1223 7 66417
Highly Porous Fibre Network Materials
Bonded fibre networks constitute an interesting class of material, offering high levels of porosity, fluid permeability and specific surface area, in combination with considerable scope for controlling and tailoring of structure. A central feature of the research is study of the various inter-relationships between processing conditions, network architecture (void content, distributions of fibre segment orientation and length, anisotropy, homogeneity etc.), microstructural factors (grain size, texture, second phase, fibre-fibre joints etc.) and mechanical properties (elastic constants, yield strength, fracture energy etc.). Network architecture is often most effectively captured by computed X-ray tomography and these data can be used in analytical and numerical models for property prediction.
Magneto-Mechanical Actuation and Exploitation in Medical Devices
Fibre network materials are attractive for usage in various types of actuator application, since they can exhibit controlled reversible shape changes, while potentially offering good combinations of strength, toughness and rate of thermal response. A particular type of actuation is currently being explored, based on magnetic actuation, using ferromagnetic fibres. This effect is being explored for certain biomedical applications, including magnetically active layers on the surface of prosthetic implants, which deform elastically on application of a magnetic field, stimulating in-growth of bone tissue via the creation of mechanical strain on the cell network. This design draws on the concepts of strain-regulated bone modeling and remodeling.
Material-Cell Interactions under Static and Dynamic Culture Conditions
Research in our group focuses on human osteoblasts, peripheral blood monocytes and mesenchymal stem cells. To mimic the functions of living tissue, 3D cultures are needed. Such cultures would enable the production of cell-seeded matrices in vitro that can be used to promote tissue repair. We are interested in the effect of 3D scaffold architecture on cell responses and their potential to form functional tissues. Producing tissue in culture requires not only a suitable 3D scaffold but also the ability to control nutrient and gas exchange, as observed in the body, along with mechanical stimulation (dynamic culture) – this requires the use of bioreactors.
- Actuation of ferromagnetic fibre networks to improve implant longevity
- Development of a bioreactor system for production of clinically relevant volumes of bone tissue
- Development of cell culture models for evaluating host reactions following implantation