Professor Bo Su

BSc, MEng, PhD, FIMMM

  • BS1 2LY

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Research interests

The Biomaterials Engineering Group (bioMEG) mainly works in the area of materials processing and surface engineering for biomedical applications. Our focus is on both basic research in scientific understanding of materials fabrication processing and applied research in materials solutions for clinical needs. The broad and multidisciplinary research is aimed at developing novel materials and surfaces for dental and orthopaedic implants, tissue engineering scaffolds and medical devices.

Our current research activities include:

1. Cell-instructive surfaces and materials

The development of novel materials able to control cell activities and direct their fate is pivotal for engineering smart implants, functional biological tissues, and advanced cell culture systems. It is well known that both chemical and physical cues have a great influence on cell functions of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, by triggering specific molecular events at the cell–material interface. Our current research projects are focused on physical control of materials and surfaces (i.e. topography and mechanical stiffness) to modulate cells and bacteria. We have been developing new micro/nanopatterning techniques for clinically relevant materials e.g. titanium metals, polymers, ceramics and composites, including anodisation through mask and template, hydrothermal growth, controlled thermal oxidation, electrochemical micromachining, colloidal lithography and hot embossing. We work with stem cell biologists and microbiologists to study how cells and bacteria response to different topographies and to understand the mechanisms which regulate cellular and bacterial attachment, spreading and differentiation or colonisation. We also produce ECM-mimicking nanofibre networks with variable mechanical stiffness to direct stem cell differentiation for tissue engineering scaffolds, cell culture substrates and smart implants.

2. Biomimetic and bio-inspired materials

Natural materials such as seashell nacre, human teeth and bones have remarkable mechanical properties of high strength and toughness. However, nature grows theses materials from the bottom-up approach using the biologically controlled self-assembly. We explore the top-down approach from colloidal powder processing routes for the fabrication of hierarchically structured ceramics and composites to offer cost-effective engineering solutions for dentistry, orthopaedics and regenerative medicine.

The design and fabrication of ceramics with tunable porosity, pore structure and gradient are based on colloidal chemistry principle. We have been developing a range of processing techniques e.g. direct protein foaming, freeze casting and 3D printing to control the hierarchical structure and properties of ceramics and composites. The potential applications include tissue-matching implants and restoratives, load-bearing tissue engineering scaffolds.

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