Biomaterials and biomimicry
Biomaterials can be derived from nature or synthesised in the laboratory using chemical approaches which involve polymers, ceramics, composite materials or metallic components.
Our research in the area of soft (polymeric) biomaterials focuses on improved production of haematopoietic stem cells and development of a new method for large-scale production of short nanofibres.
In the area of metallic biomaterials, our research aims to improve the biocompatibility and bioactivity of implants such as artificial joints, bone plates and stents.
Biomimicry or biomimetics is the imitation of the models, systems and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. Biomimicry can play an important role in the design and development of new materials and structures.
We are addressing the major challenge in the field of haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) biology – developing systems that support HSC self renewal and controlled differentiation in vitro.
We are developing integrated bioreactors and 3D scaffolds with high biomimicry for HSC selection from umbilical cord blood and expansion in vitro. These scaffolds will allow greater levels of control over cell fate, enable large volume processing and expansion of HSC and can be tailored to other stem cell applications.
Our research in this area focuses on understanding the interaction of the surface of metallic biomaterials with biological cells; and developing micro and nano surface modifications on metallic biomaterials to enhance their biocompatibility and bioactivity.
Magnesium alloys are receiving increasing attention as new biodegradable implant materials for orthopaedic applications. However, challenges due to poor mechanical performance and low corrosion resistance mean we need to develop new Mg alloys using strengthening alloying elements.
IFM is leading the development of a new class of nanomaterials known as short nanofibres. Our research is focused on:
- Developing a new method for large-scale, low-cost production of short nanofibres
- Building a pilot plant for large-scale short nanofibre production
- Establishing and demonstrating novel applications for short nanofibres with a focus on areas such as high-level filtration of small particulates, tissue engineering and enzymes.
Titanium and some of its alloys are widely accepted by human bone tissue as load-bearing implants. However, their stiffness is a problem which leads to eventual failure. We are developing new more flexible titanium alloys using biocompatible titanium in a porous structure.