In-person in HCI G3:
3D printing of adaptive, load-bearing hydrogels
Esther Amstad (EPFL)
Nature produces soft functional materials displaying exceptional mechanical properties. We are far from synthesizing soft synthetic analogues possessing a similar set of functionality and mechanical properties. This discrepancy in properties is closely related to the degree of compositional and structural control which is much higher in natural soft materials. The level of compositional and structural control depends on the processing of these materials. Inspired by the fabrication of natural soft materials, my group introduces drop-based processes to fabricate granular materials possessing well-defined microstructures and optionally abruptly changing compositions. In this talk, I will demonstrate how we 3D print or cast functional cm-sized granular load-bearing soft materials, including polymers and minerals starting from compartmentalized reagents. Inspired by the mineralization of certain soft natural scaffolds, I will discuss possibilities to transform synthetic soft materials into hard and tough composites with compositions and mechanical properties that are similar to some of the natural counterparts.
Zooming in on material-cell interfaces
Martina Cihova (Imperial College London)
Biomaterials for implants, diagnostics or therapeutics have changed the quality of life across the globe. An ever growing number of reports on medical materials reacting in an unpredicted way upon their contact with the complex environment of the human body, however, clearly show that our understanding of the interplay between materials and biological matter is far from complete - baring a risk for patient comfort and safety.
In this talk, I will highlight what we can learn on biomaterials durability and function when taking a zoomed-in look to the material-cell interface at sub-cellular length scales, and show how Materials Science & Engineering can be leveraged to probe biological responses, to ultimately unlock our understanding of the dynamic material-cell interplay.