Investigations of Laser Welding of Biodegradable and Bioresorbable Polymers

Supervisor: Dr Richard Sherlock

We are now arriving at the point where traditional engineering materials that have in the past been successfully implemented in this sector are unable to meet emerging demands.  A novel class of materials is required and the advanced laser tools proposed for this project have the potential to play an important role in this area.

A number of resorbable polymers already exist: Polycaprolactone (PCL), Poly(latic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) and Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA).  These materials have already been extensively used laboratory based investigations for tissue scaffolds for skin and nerve tissue scaffolds(1).  However, the potential also exists to use these materials in devices designed for repair and healing of vascular problems (e.g. coronary heart disease, abdominal aortic aneurisms, etc).  Indeed, bioresorbable coronary stents based on metallic materials (magnesium) have been developed and clinically trialled successfully(2).  Many stents (particularly those used in the vasculature outside the heart) are made from polymers or incorporate polymer components.  Future products in these areas will need to include bioresorbable polymers.

Aims and objectives of the proposed programme of research

  1. Assess the effectiveness of laser welding for joining biodegradable polymers and combinations of different biodegradable polymers
  2. Understand the effect of laser induced thermal cycles on the structure of biodegradable polymers
  3. Assess the effect of laser induced thermal cycles on the biodegradation rates of biodegradable polymers

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2019/20 Fulltime Prospectus IT Sligo