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Developing materials to mimic spinal discs

Thursday 19 June 2014

Pioneering work led by MERI's Andy Alderson which has the potential to improve the quality of artificial spinal discs will be discussed at a House of Lords science and technology reception this week.

Professor Andy Alderson, in collaboration with colleagues at the universities of Manchester and Bolton, is leading research into the use of flexible auxetic materials, which expand when stretched rather than contact.

Professor Alderson, of Sheffield Hallam's Materials and Engineering Research Institute, says one potential use for these materials would be in artificial spinal disc implant devices.

At the House of Lords, he will be giving talks on how he is developing large strain gradient auxetics capable of undergoing dramatic shape changes when a simple tension is applied.

Professor Alderson will also be talking about other collaboration between his team and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to develop an auxetic laparoscopic device for potential use in keyhole surgery. Andy went on to explain: 'The development of auxetic materials for commercial use has accelerated significantly in recent years. Their use in surgery is still relatively new, but developing new materials with improved properties is critical in delivering healthcare provision that is more sustainable and affordable, whilst simultaneously increasing the quality and length of life.'

Professor Alderson will talk at a reception at the House of Lords for the materials community on June 25th. He was invited by the Knowledge Transfer Network's Materials and Nanotechnology team which has collaborated with Sheffield Hallam to develop commercial opportunities for auxetic materials.

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