ashwini bakhade
by on June 18, 2024
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One of the major developments in medical engineered materials has been in the creation of implants that can last for decades inside the human body without rejection or damage. Traditionally, implants were made from stainless steel and titanium as these were seen as highly biocompatible. However, newer biomaterials now allow for customization at the cellular level to better integrate with tissues.


Ceramics are now commonly used for dental and orthopedic implants due to their strength and biocompatibility. Medical Engineered Materials  Calcium phosphates and bioactive glasses help stimulate new bone growth and long-term bonding with existing tissues. Researchers are also developing resorbable ceramics that slowly degrade inside the body as new tissue forms, eliminating the need for future implant removal. Other efforts focus on modifying ceramic surfaces through coatings or lithography to mimic the nanotopography of natural bone, improving integration.

New metallic biomaterials aim to combine the mechanical properties of metals with additional functionalities. Nitinol is a nickel-titanium alloy that is highly elastic and able to withstand impacts without damage. Its shape-memory effect allows implants to be delivered through minimally invasive techniques. Magnesium-based alloys are also being explored as they degrade predictably inside the body, preventing long-term implant issues. Self-assembled scaffolds utilizing 3D printing techniques further help bone and tissue regeneration around implants.

Fabrics and Textiles for Medical Applications

Biomedical textiles represent a diverse category of engineered materials with applications ranging from implants to wound care. Materials scientists work to develop fibers and weaves with properties like antibacterial activity, moisture wicking, and flexibility. Modified cellulose fibers show promise for advanced wound dressings that absorb exudate and rapidly transfer it away from injured skin.

Other efforts aim to produce versatile fabrics that can be easily shaped as needed during surgical procedures. One approach utilizes shape-memory polymers that temporarily change form upon exposure to heat or moisture, making them well-suited for minimally invasive techniques. Nanofibers generated through electrospinning techniques mimic the nanoscale structure of the extracellular matrix, acting as scaffolds for cellular ingrowth. Functionalized surfaces and release of bioactive molecules from these fabrics further accelerate healing.

Application in Medical Devices and Equipment

Medical Engineered Materials rely on engineered plastics, metals, elastomers, and other advanced materials to function safely and reliably inside and outside the body. Materials selection plays a key role in portability, sterilizability, durability, and biocompatibility based on the intended use. For example, plastics like ABS and polycarbonate are often used in housings, chassis, and casings due to their impact resistance, machinability, and molding capabilities. Metals provide needed strength and stability in components subjected to mechanical stresses.

When devices are designed for intravascular or other implantable functions, biomaterials play a critical part. Stainless steel, nitinol, and MP35N are suitable for guidewires, cannulae, and other interventional tools because of their flexibility, kink resistance, and radiopacity under medical imaging. Polymer coatings or surface treatments further enhance lubricity and reduce thrombogenicity. Elastomeric materials allow production of seals, valves, tubing, and membranes with controlled gas and fluid permeability. Advances in materials patterning now enable miniaturization of device components down to the microscale.

Sensors and Bioelectronics Integrating Engineering and Biology

A diverse range of medical engineered materials and bioelectronics rely on engineered materials that interact directly with biological tissues and analytes. Key materials in this area include conducting polymers that can undergo redox reactions, enabling applications like neural interfaces and glucose monitors. Other designs incorporate nanoparticles, quantum dots, carbon nanotubes or graphene to endow devices with electrical, optical, or biochemical recognition properties on the nanoscale.

Implantable sensors are a major area of research focus. Chemically sensitive field-effect transistors are produced from semiconducting materials like silicon, enabling small, durable devices for continuous analyte monitoring. Conducting hydrogels provide biocompatible, porous matrices for enzyme or cell immobilization in skin-mounted or subcutaneous biosensors. New application spaces are also emerging, such as bioelectronic medicines utilizing materials like conductive scaffolds to electrically stimulate tissues for therapeutic purposes. Overall, advancements in materials engineering continue to revolutionize approaches to healthcare monitoring, diagnosis and treatment.

 

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