Biomimetics and Biomimicry in Engineering

Archive for the ‘Publications’ Category

Engineered foams for wheelchair seating

In Publications on 2017/11/08 at 10:39 am

We have published the results arising from our studies on open cell polymeric foams that can be tailored so that they support those who are bed bound or wheelchair users providing them with general well being and alleviating pressure points.

Avoiding pressure points, managing sores and permitting air permeability are the three main design specifications that clinicians aim to when choosing a cushion. In addition to that, a functional cushion, such as those who support lateral movements (e.g. leaning sideways to grab a glass of water and be helped to return to your initial position without compromising one’s stability) and protect from vibration and impacts (e.g. dropping off a curb), are the focus of our research project.

The Multifunctional Materials Lab and clinicians from the NHS have studied how we can help their clinician colleagues understand cushion performance and therefore aid them with the prescription of these to patients and users.

The results from our study have been published in the Medical Engineering and Physics Journal and in the Assistive Technology Journal .

The International Standard that regulates developments in this topic is the ISO16840-2:2007, which is currently under revision. We are hoping our work to inform their work and assist in their revisions for the replacement ISO 16840-2.

iso_replacement

 

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Porosity and pore size effect on the properties of sintered Ti35Nb4Sn alloy scaffolds and their suitability for tissue engineering applications

In Publications on 2017/11/03 at 11:04 am

Our most recent results on the importance of tailoring porosity engineered materials for cell regeneration are to be published in the Journal of Alloys and Compounds.

Porous scaffolds manufactured via powder metallurgy and sintering were designed for their structure (i.e. pore size and porosity) and mechanical properties (stiffness, strength) to be controlled and tailored to mimic those of human bone. The scaffolds were realised to fulfill three main objectives:

(i) to obtain values of stiffness and strength similar to those of trabecular (or spongy) bone, with a view of exploiting these as bone grafts that permit cell regeneration,

(ii) to establish a relationship between stiffness, strength and density that allows tailoring for mass customisation to suit patient’s needs; and

(iii) to assess alloy cytotoxicity and biocompatibility via in vitro studies.

The results obtained using a very low stiffness alloy (Ti35Nb4Sn) further lowered with the introduction of nominal porosity (30–70%) with pores in the ranges 180–300 μm and 300–500 μm showed compatibility for anatomical locations typically subjected to implantation and bone grafting (femoral head and proximal tibia). The regression fitting parameters for the linear and power law regressions were similar to those found for bone specimens, confirming a structure favourable to capillary network formation. Biological tests confirmed non-cytotoxicity of the alloy.

Scaffolds of porosity nominal 50%vol and pore range 300–500 μm performed best in the adhesion and propagation assays due to a good balance between surface area and pore cavity volume.

Graphical abstract for https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jallcom.2017.10.026

Study on bio-mechanical properties of porosity scaffolds tailored for cell regeneration, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jallcom.2017.10.026

A pre-view of the article appears on Journal of Alloys and Compounds, Volume 731, 15 January 2018, Pages 189-199, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jallcom.2017.10.026.

 

The effect of pore size and porosity on mechanical properties and biological response of porous titanium scaffolds

In Publications on 2017/10/27 at 8:49 am

The Multifunctional Materials Lab has recently published our results on porosity tailored titanium scaffolds. The results were very interesting and demonstrated there is more to what the eye can see in a first pass: cells are extremely sensitive to cavities and ‘think’ about whether they should bridge a gap or simply fill the hole.

Our article can be found here

The effect of pore size and porosity on elastic modulus, strength, cell attachment and cell proliferation was studied for Ti porous scaffolds manufactured via powder metallurgy and sintering. Porous scaffolds were prepared in two ranges of porosities so that their mechanical properties could mimic those of cortical and trabecular bone respectively. Space-holder engineered pore size distributions were carefully determined to study the impact that small changes in pore size may have on mechanical and biological behaviour. The Young’s moduli and compressive strengths were correlated with the relative porosity. Linear, power and exponential regressions were studied to confirm the predictability in the characterisation of the manufactured scaffolds and therefore establish them as a design tool for customisation of devices to suit patients’ needs. The correlations were stronger for the linear and the power law regressions and poor for the exponential regressions. The optimal pore microarchitecture (i.e. pore size and porosity) for scaffolds to be used in bone grafting for cortical bone was set to < 212 μm with volumetric porosity values of 27–37%, and for trabecular tissues to 300–500 μm with volumetric porosity values of 54–58%. The pore size range 212–300 μm with volumetric porosity values of 38–56% was reported as the least favourable to cell proliferation in the longitudinal study of 12 days of incubation.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msec.2017.03.249

Cells are sensitive to small changes in pore size and some are even detrimental to their proliferation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msec.2017.03.249

Published in Materials Science and Engineering: C, Volume 77, 1 August 2017, Pages 219-228, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msec.2017.03.249

3D Acoustic-Structure Interaction of Ultrasound in Fluids for the Manufacture of Graded Materials

In Publications, Seminars and Keynotes on 2017/10/20 at 2:55 pm

Functionally graded materials engineered to meet specific requirements are being increasingly sought after for advanced engineering projects, yet the possibilities for their manufacture lag behind their design. The ability to control the porosity of a cellular material is one such method for adding functional gradients within materials. A novel
technique using ultrasound to control the porosity in reacting polymers shows potential to effectively mass-manufacture porosity tailored polymeric foams. In this work the pressure field in a metastable polymer produced by multiple ultrasonic sources is
modeled at distinct stages of the polymerisation reaction.

20170608_JH_ppt-WolfsonConf1

Joe Holt presenting our work on multiphysics modelling

This work has been presented at the COMSOL Conference 2017, 18th – 20th October 2017, Rotterdam (Netherlands) by Joe Holt, a researcher in the Multifunctional Materials Manufacturing Lab, PhD student of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Embedded Intelligence and co-sponsored by FAR Composites UK Ltd.

Mathematical modelling of sonicated bubbles

In Publications on 2017/05/31 at 5:10 pm

One possible manufacturing method for bone scaffolds used in regenerative medicine involves the acoustic irradiation of a reacting polymer foam to generate a graded porosity. Sonication of foams have been our focus of research for many years now as this technology allows the porosity tailoring of cellular materials.

20060117_1500_B2_red

Sonicated foam (energy received from the left) with a marked gradation in porosity

We have joined forces with Prof Mulholland’s team (Dr Barlow and Dr Bradley) at Strathclyde University and worked on a mathematical model of a non-reacting process in order to develop theoretical confirmation of the influence of the acoustic signal on the polymer foam.

The model describes single bubble growth in a free rising, nonreacting polymer foam irradiated by an acoustic standing wave and incorporates the effects of inertia. Investigations are carried out to explore the influence of inertia on the bubble volume, fluid pressure and the stress tensors of the foam, and to explore the effect of fluid viscosity and acoustic pressure amplitude on the final bubble volume, and the curing time. A key result is that increasing the applied acoustic pressure is shown to result in a reduced steady state bubble volume, indicating that ultrasonic irradiation has the potential to produce tailored porosity profiles in cellular materials such as bioengineering scaffolds and light-weight structures.

Our work has been compiled as a paper recently published in the Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics and can be found here (Open Access).

Applying International Standards to manage comfort

In Publications on 2017/03/01 at 6:46 pm

Have you ever seen the seat testing device at IKEA? We have used a very similar one in our study.

ikea_durability_test

IKEA durability test

Open cell polymeric foams can be tailored so that the support provided and the level of stability is customised to people’s needs. For those who are bed bound or wheelchair users the selection of a cushion can improve their health and general well being. Avoiding pressure points, managing sores and permitting air permeability are the three main design specifications that patients and clinicians aim to when choosing a cushion. In addition to that, a functional cushion, such as those who support lateral movements (e.g. leaning sideways to grab a glass of water and be helped to return to your initial position without compromising one’s stability) and protect from vibration and impacts (e.g. dropping off a curb), are the focus of our last research project.

My team and I have had the privilege to work with the biomechanics and physiotherapists at the SMART Centre at Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh to study how we can help their clinician colleagues understand cushion performance and therefore aid them with the prescription of these to patients and users.

The results from our study have been presented at the PMG 2012 Conference and recently published by the Assistive Technology journal (free e-prints can be collected here). This has allowed us to interact with the community that is preparing the new version of the ISO16840-2:2007 which will regulate developments in this area.

 

Empowering resilient communities

In Publications on 2017/02/06 at 10:58 pm

We have created low-cost housing solutions for the local community in Pabal (India). Those people have a lot of ingenuity but not a lot of money to buy expensive building materials. Only the transport to their villages would cost them a significant amount.

But they have a wealth of natural resources. And amongst them, they have bamboo, a fascinating multifunctional material, ideal for structure-erecting, wind-loading and vibration-proofing due to its heterogeneous porous structure and high shear modulus.

bamboo_microstructure

Bamboo: macro and microstructure

We have helped them to build those modular huts by providing them with a set of instructions that are universal and accessible to all, no matter the mother tongue, ability or building skills. In this way they are prepared to adapt and be resilient to the threats posed by natural forces and climate change hazards (e.g. floods, pluvial, wind, earth tremors) and reinforce their coping strategy as a resilient community.

In the process of developing those instructions we have learnt a lot from the Information Design community. There is so much lo learn about user-centric design, cognitive load and the language of actions, perspectives and colours to convey instructions and allow self-guidance. I deeply thank them for having mentored us.

Our work can be read here and directly on the Information Design Journal site

idj_22-1_pb

Information Design Journal 2016 volume 22 no. 1

 

Doing more with less: Bio-inspired innovations

In Comment, Publications on 2016/10/19 at 1:08 pm

The very prestigious Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering has invited me to contribute to their blog this month. October is dedicated to exploring the future of Manufacturing and they wanted to hear my story about the work we do in porosity tailored structures inspired by nature. It is a great honour to be showcased by them.

You can read the post here:

Or here: http://qeprize.org/createthefuture/less-bio-inspired-innovations/

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a £1million prize fund awarded to an engineer, or group of engineers, whose innovation has been of global benefit to humanity. Alongside awarding the prize, the QEPrize foundation also exists to celebrate and promote engineering, encouraging the next generation to take up the challenges of tomorrow.

Engineered metal implants to target cancer cells and eradicate side effects of chemotheraphy

In Publications on 2014/03/06 at 12:12 am

The work done by my colleague Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta and our ‘dream team’ has been published in Nature Communications.

Asier proudly presents to the world the work done using his clever “bioorthogonal” method for activating a prodrug by palladium catalyzed dealkylation. What motivates us is to move towards the eradication of the side effects of chemotheraphy (e.g. depleted immune system, hair loss, tiredness, etc) in the very near future. This is done by focusing the cancer treatment only to the affected area. Like a ‘trojan horse’, in our vision we implant the engineered catalyst carrier first. Then, by a selective activation via oral drugs, we produce the chemo-destructive effect with maximum effect on the targeted area, and minimal negative effects (i.e. death) on healthy tissue.

The technology in a 'nutshell'

The technology in a ‘nutshell’

The full paper can be found here.

The press release by University of Edinburgh can be viewed here.

Asier is an academic fellow at the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre at the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, the University of Edinburgh.

Making sense of standardisation

In Publications on 2013/11/18 at 12:27 am

Standardisation is that useful process that allows us engineers to share a common ‘plane of reference’ on which to base our conversations. It is useful to know that a material (say, a slab of titanium) has the same mechanical properties when it is measured in Loughborough, Sydney, Lima or Granada.

But sometimes standardisation goes too far on the other extreme. The over-translation from observation to technical definitions might turn an ISO norm into a document that is no longer useful for practical purposes. This is particularly risky when ISO norms attempt to tabulate and measure in ‘softer’ areas such as healthcare and rehabilitation.

In a piece of work recently published here, my colleagues from the NHS Scotland SMART Centre and we have restated some practical insight to an ISO norm that guides the characterisation of wheelchair cushions for a better guidance to prescription by clinicians.

Our work has been well received by the practising community and we look forward to continue working with them.

Ref: Hollington J., Hillman S.J., Torres-Sanchez C., Boeckx J., Crossan N., “ISO 16840-2:2007 load deflection and hysteresis measurements for a sample of wheelchair seating cushions”, Medical Engineering & Physics, in press. DOI:10.1016/j.medengphy.2013.10.010