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Jan 19, 2017 08:37 AM EST

University of New South Wales Scientists Introduces An Advanced Smart Material

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The biomedical engineers from the University of New South Wales have created a smart fabric that contains similar properties to the bone tissue periosteum.

The researchers have already obtained proof of concept and is now on the next stage of producing prototypes for the smart fabric. This breakthrough will greatly impact the medical, safety, and transport sectors.

What is the periosteum and its uses?

The periosteum is a thin yet very tough tissue that supports and protects the bones and connects it to the other surrounding structures. It is made up of collagen fibers and osteogenic cells, which has a vital role in how the bony tissue heals and repairs. To describe it simply, the periosteum acts like a skin to the bones. Without the periosteum, the bones will not be able to withstand high-impact loads.

Before this breakthrough from the UNSW scientists and engineers, there hasn't been any method to create such advanced materials that is totally functional.

In order to create such advanced smart material, the biomedical engineers led by professor Melissa Knothe Tate mapped the complex architecture of the periosteum and created a 3D rendering on the computer. After that, they identified the key components and built prototypes with the help of weaving loom technology.

In order to map out the architectural makeup of the tissue, the team used an ultra-high fidelity imaging system. They also tested the feasibility of their computer rendering via a design software.

After that, they had to scale the challenge of using materials that will mimic elastin and collagen, the proteins found in the periosteum. For that, they used elastic materials for elastin and silk for collagen.

The engineers were then able to create a series of fabric prototypes that has similar characteristics to the periosteum. After that, they tested the method to other fibers in order to create different types of textiles.

These types of textiles can be used in creating suits for that will protect athletes, such as skiers, and race car drivers against high-impact collisions.

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