News from Aarhus University School of Engineering
01-09-2011 New knowledge of fibres brings scientists a step further in the making of artificial tissue
Danish scientists have identified the inner three-dimensional structure in fibres. This gives a possibility to make surgical material with improved or entirely new physical characteristics.
“It is a very important fundamental knowledge of fibres, which brings us a step further in the work of making artificial tissue, ” says Jens Vinge Nygaard from Aarhus School of Engineering, who is an expert in materials.
He has used a synchrotron setup that generates X-rays to build three-dimensional images of artificial fibres made of polymers, which even now is used for test production of skin, veins and cartilage in the laboratory.
“It is the first time ever that we have the possibility to study the structure of the fibres as detailed as now. The fibres are not bigger than a thousandth of a millimetre, and the new three-dimensional images are essential for us to move on in the project of making artificial tissue, ” he explains.
Just now Aarhus School of Engineering is participating in several research projects centred round the focus of developing different types of artificial tissue. And this new knowledge concerning the structure of the fibres can be of crucial importance, when it comes to carry the research even further, evaluates Jens Vinge Nygaard.
“We have found small holes in the middle of the fibres, and by studying these holes we can analyse the variation in the density of the material. We can so to speak decide how the fibres will behave under different circumstances.“
The fibres can be the surgical material of the future
It is especially physical characteristics as elasticity, strength and density, which are essential in the development of surgical materials based on fibres. With this new knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of the fibres, the scientists will have great possibilities to design and improve the surgical materials since their are far more accurately can predict how the materials will behave in the human body.
“When you produce a vein it is fundamental that it is designed to have a special elasticity, so that it can expand optimally, when the heart is beating and the blood presses through. When you make a bone implant it is of importance that it reaches the right strength and density. When you produce artificial skin it is crucial that you achieve a precise level of humidity and induce a capability to stimulate the repair tissue in the material, “ says Jens Vinge Nygaard.
Artificial fibres have several potentials of application. Among others it is predicted to be the surgical material of the 21st century due to its enrichment with nanoparticles. Still, there will be a few years before the scientists can apply the results from the laboratory to grand practical production.
Jens Vinge Nygaard, Head of Development, Aarhus School of Engineering: 4189 3170