Biomaterials

Biomaterials research spans the breadth of projects from materials and implantable device development/characterization to the host response to such implantable devices.

""Alan Eberhardt – Human pelvis finite element model. Biosurfaces

A basic understanding of the surface morphology, and surface and/or bulk composition and chemistry, is the focus of the surfaces research group. Methods used include:

  • Scanning electron and probe microscopy
  • Auger electron-spectroscopy
  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
  • Atomic absorption spectroscopy
  • X-ray diffraction
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy

Biocorrosion & Degradation

Metallic implantable devices are susceptible to mechanical-electrochemical interactions that can result in accelerated corrosion. Ceramic and polymeric biomaterials are subject to degradation. Both processes can result in dissemination of ions, by-products, and particulate debris in periprosthetic tissue. Various DC and AC corrosion techniques and constant composition/chemistry titration systems are used independently and also in symbiosis to investigate these corrosion and degradation processes.

Biocompatibility

This research area seeks to understand the molecular basis for tissue reactions to biomaterials. The work is focused on the following topics:

  • mechanisms of toxicity of ions leached from metallic implant materials
  • interaction of extracellular matrix molecules with material surfaces
  • effects of mechanical strain on bone cells cultured on implant surfaces
  • protein biosynthesis by cells cultured on different surface

Information gained from these studies will be used to develop cell cultures and animal models for evaluating new surface treatments for biomedical implants.

Implant Biomechanics

This research area is focused on minimizing the loosening of joint replacements and implants caused by mechanical wear, interfacial debonding, and mechanical interaction between the implant and the surrounding host material. A combination of experimental, analytical, and computational methods are used to address these issues. For example, engineering fracture mechanics is used to understand the initiation and propogation of flaws within polyethylene (UHMWPE), which generate debris. Similar approaches are used to evaluate debonding at stem-cement and cement-bone interfaces that may lead to loosening of cemented joint replacements.

The long term goal of these projects is to predict the mechanical response of implants in their environment so that designs can be optimized to improve the longevity of implant systems.

Tissue Regeneration

Biomaterial-enhanced tissue regeneration applies advanced biomaterials approaches to promote healing and regeneration in pressure ulcers, burns, blood vessels, nerves, bone, cartilage, and vascular anastomosis. Research is aimed at understanding how biomaterials can be used to help in the restorative repair process.

Biomedical Implants and Devices Faculty