Hydrogel Mechanics and Applications

Hydrogel-related image.

Hydrogel-related image.

There is a significant interest in the development of hydrogel-based, controlled drug delivery and tissue engineering systems for critical, minimally-invasive biomedical applications. This is due to hydrogel’s ability to be synthesized in a variety of controlled methods, carry different agents, adhere to tissue, and biodegrade.

We are synthesizing new hydrogel systems and conducting experimental and modeling research on gellan- and polyethylene glycol hydrogels for drug delivery, chemical control of cancer cell microenvironment, and to mimic extracellular matrix for cell motility modulation.

Modeling of Cell-Matrix and Cell-Cell Interactions

Cell mechanics-related image.

The behavior of living cells is strongly coupled with their 3D environment. For many animal cells this environment comprises of extracellular matrix (ECM) and other cells. These cell-matrix and cell-cell interactions are not just chemical in nature; they are complex processes that involve a variety of mechanical cues such as changing cell stiffness and volume, remodeling of ECM and cell cytoskeleton, creation and dissolution of focal adhesions for cell locomotion, and transport of fluids through the cell membrane. Our goal is to develop a continuum and microscopic mechanism based model for cell migration. This understanding could enable important advancements in anti-cancer treatments by inhibiting cancer cell migration through mechanical changes in the cell microenvironment.

Machine Learning Driven Flaw Detection and Probabilistic Fracture Modeling

Ultrasound testing-related image.

Ultrasound testing (UT) remains one of the most cost effective and popular nondestructive testing (NDT) methods for the detection of defects and cracks in engineering structures. We are conducting mechanistic numerical simulation studies, and developing a neural network based solution for accurate quantitative prediction of key flaw characteristics.

Fracture mechanics-related image.

Current methods for modeling and assessing fitness for service for pipelines are not able to accurately predict failure when interacting flaws such as dent, corrosion wall loss and embedded cracks are simultaneously present. In combination with our research on accurate flaw detection, we are developing probabilistic failure models for selected cases of individual and interacting flaws.

Shape Memory Materials Based Biomedical Devices

Shape memory polymer-related image.

Shape memory polymers and metallic alloys are responsive materials that are able to recover large strains and their original permanent shapes from temporary modified shapes. The use of biocompatible shape memory polymers and alloys could be particularly useful in minimally invasive surgeries where there are limitations to access parts of the body due to anatomical considerations. Working alongside physicians from local hospitals, we are developing shape memory polymer and alloy based biomedical devices and implants for more optimum and minimally invasive surgeries.

Modeling of Engineered Anisotropic Myocardium Scaffolds

Fracture mechanics-related image.

Several million people suffer myocardial infarction (heart attack) every year. Cardiac patch therapies have promise to restore the heart function and lower the risk of heart failure after myocardial infarction. We are developing a continuum scale anisotropic model and finite element computational tools for the anisotropic response of engineered composite microarchitecture tissue scaffolds. Our modeling capability will allow design and analysis of optimal engineered scaffold tissues that can reduce the local scar damage and prevent secondary damage in the infarcted heart.