Biomedical Materials

This research cluster conducts research to investigate, develop & improve novel polymers & composites for use in biomedical applications. Several materials have been developed including, but not limited to, electroactive polymers for optical applications, electroactive hydrophilic materials, micro-needles for skin permeation enhancement and fluid extraction.

Research Areas

Research conducted within this theme focuses on biomaterials for various applications:  bio-smart materials. The aim of the Bio-smart materials research is to develop novel material systems that have the capability to integrate elemental functions such as sensing, actuating and processing. Current research activities can be divided into 5 main activity groups.

  1. Smart Actuators and Sensors

This research focuses on developing piezoelectric polymer and electroactive polymer (EAP) materials for smart actuation applications in smart lenses and micro-pumps.

This research also focuses on developing conductive polymer-composites in concentrator and micro sensors for application in trace level gas sensing commonly used in the transport and storage of ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables. There is also an opportunity to develop an electroactive polymer for smart soft sensors in applications of tactile sensing and motion detection in sports and biomedical engineering.

  1. Nano-enhanced Composite Materials

This research project focusses on the development of high-performance composite materials for biomedical applications using nanotechnology. Organic and inorganic nanofibers are developed to provide reinforcement for the composite materials. Coatings for these nanofibers will be developed and optimised to ensure good adhesion to the composite matrix. This project will also investigate several types of thermosetting and thermoplastic matrix types to ensure optimum performance for the nano-composite material. These nano-composites will be assessed for several applications, such as protective headgears, dental prostheses, and implants.

  1. Porous Polymer

The aim is to develop a type of porous polymer with required structural property for various applications including micro-needle array with biodegradable porous tips. Discrete element models of material structural properties are also of interest with the aim being to study the influence of the amount of porosity and its size on the structural property porous materials.

  1. Hydrophilic Polymer Materials

The project seeks to develop a method for preparing a hydrophilic porous polymeric material intended for a compact and sterile device for humidifying air.

  1. Nan Bio–sensing materials for cancer treatments

The project focuses on the design, manufacture and validating a new generation of gold nanoparticles to overcome the limitations of conventional probe principle for cancer diagnosis. In addition we work on enhancing the function of X-ray computer tomography (CT), the most commonly used imaging technique for non-invasive diagnosis of tumours using our Nano-Bio–materials.

  1. Composite Materials

As demand is increasing for biomedical materials, there is a strong interest globally on the development of non-traditional materials. This research project focusses on the development of high-performance composite materials for biomedical applications using nanotechnology. Organic and inorganic nanofibers are developed to provide reinforcement for the composite materials. Coatings for these nanofibers will be developed and optimised to ensure good adhesion to the composite matrix. This project will also investigate several types of thermosetting and thermoplastic matrix types to ensure optimum performance for the nano-composite material. The last stage of the project will focus on biomedical applications for these nano-composites that are of interest to industry in New Zealand.