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Cold Sintering of Advanced Ceramics and Glass along with Natural Sustainable Materials for Bone Tissue Engineering (Industry Project)


   EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Biomedical Materials

  ,  Friday, February 10, 2023  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The ABM CDT is a partnership between The Universities of Manchester and Sheffield. ALL APPLICATIONS should however, be submitted via the Manchester application system only.

This project will involve the development of cold sintered composites using a unique processing methodology leading to very high filler content, which in turn will lead to high mechanical strength. The main components of the composite will include a sustainable, biocompatible, and bioresorbable polymer, Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate), P(3HB) and the filler will include inorganic components including Bioglass, Hydroxyapatite or other bioactive fillers. Cold sintering will allow the incorporation of P(3HB) which melts at 170oC and degrades at about 250oC. This composite will then be used for 3D printing of bespoke implants for bone repair and regeneration. Since we will have high percentage of the filler, such composites can be used to target relatively higher load bearing applications. The constructs will be analysed with respect to their biocompatibility and bone regenerative properties.

Traditionally, sintering to create dense products requires heat treatment up to 80% of the melting temperature (Tm) to promote the transport of material to eliminate pores. Such high temperatures (>1200°C) are costly in terms of energy and restrictive in the manufacture of ceramics devices which often require integration of polymers that suffer from volatility, melting, oxidation, interaction, and mismatch in thermal expansion with the ceramic. Professor Reaney has carried out in depth research on cold sintering of ceramics and devices, a patent (P100343WO01) has been filed which includes the consolidation of Bioglass and Bioglass/polymer composites at ~100oC. This will allow the development of composites with high filler content and also inclusion of polymer matrices such as Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate), a highly biocompatible and sustainable polymer of bacterial origin which melt at 170oC, without any degradation. These composites will lead to the development of relatively higher load bearing implants for bone tissue engineering. Currently no such biocompatible and bioresorbable polymer-based implant is available for a tissue engineering approach to load bearing applications such as shoulder and hip replacement/regeneration.

Main questions to be answered

The main questions to be addressed in this project are:

  1. Optimisation of the conditions to produce P(3HB) using bacterial fermentation
  2. Production of P(3HB)/Bioglass/HA/inorganic filler composites via the cold sintering methodology
  3. 3D printing of these composites to produce bespoke implants for bone repair and regeneration and their characterisation
  4. In vitro analysis of the biocompatibility and bone regenerative capacity of the composite based implants

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