Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Current Status in Biomaterials Research

If you are interested in learninging what is going on in Biomaterials these days, I highly recommend two articles recently published in the MRS Bulletin. The article by Prof. George Whitesides of Harvard University provided a broad picture on the history and future of Materials and Biomaterials. The main point was that a materials researcher should knock at the doors of the medical doctors and ask for problems (to solve) and collaboration. The other article by Prof. Samuel Stupp et al at Northwestern University was more technical and was oriented towards both Biomedical Materials and Bio-inspired Materials. He listed many natural examples from the Gecko's feet to lotus leaves. What I found most interesting in his research was the peptide amphiphile fibers he has been working on for years. I didn't think it would go any where (in terms of applications) a few years ago, but now it seems to be one of the most successful examples in materials design.

These papers covered the chemistry and biology parts of biomaterials. Mechanics was not inlcuded partly due to their background and partly due to the slow progress in the Mechanics of Biomaterials . But with your spirit in mechanics, I am sure you will sense many mechanics issues there (e.g. how does a hip fracture? how does a bone deform? When replacing a tissue, does the biomaterial need to have the same mechanical properties as the tissue, as many claim?).

References:
1. Expanding Frontiers in Biomaterials, Samuel I. Stupp, Jack J.J.M. Donners, Liang-shi Li, and Alvaro Mata, MRS BULLETIN • VOLUME 30 • NOVEMBER 2005, 864-873.
2. The Intersection of Biology and Materials Science, George M.Whitesides and Amy P.Wong, MRS BULLETIN • VOLUME 31 • JANUARY 2006, 19-27.

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