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Junior Research Fellow (Emmanuel College)

MA, MSci University of Cambridge
PhD University of Cambridge

Dynamic Materials and Structures for Biodevices

My research aims to bridge the gap between existing electronic devices for healthcare, and regenerative implants by exploiting the electromechanical behaviour of biopolymers. Healthcare devices include diagnostic aids such as biosensors and labs on chips as well as wearable electronics and prosthetics produced from synthetic materials.  Regenerative implants on the other hand are currently aimed at providing temporary structural and biological support at the site of an injury, with the aim to facilitate the repair and controlled regeneration of the original healthy tissue.

Cells in the body often require a recognition of the local environment through a variety of cues, of which biochemical ones are readily provided by polymers found within the extracellular matrix of the tissues. My recent work has shown that other cues, such as the electromechanical behaviour of proteins can be modified in the lab by using common processing techniques such as chemical crosslinking.

The primary focus of my research is the creation of new responsive biopolymeric systems, with a focus on electroresponsive polymers. Specifically, this involves the development of ‘smart’ biocompatible polymers, and the ability to fabricate large scale 2D and 3D structures whose dynamic response can be optimised for use in medical devices. 

Having worked on a range of materials characterisation datasets, I am also deeply interested in the development of analytical methods and heuristics with the aim to extract physical parameters and correlations underlying the datasets. Most recently, I have been involved in creating a robust method to measure interconnectivity in porous structures, and in developing predictive toolkits for collagen scaffolds.

 

Piezoelectric response from collagen fibrils when (a) non-crosslinked (b) crosslinked with EDC-NHS.

Non-crosslinked fibres display a random distribution of the piezoelectric response unlike the EDC-NHS treated fibre bundles which produce localised piezoelectricity. 

Arrows indicate fibre bundles of ∼300 nm formed upon crosslinking.

 

 

  • M. Nair, S.M. Best and R.E. Cameron, ”Crosslinking Collagen Constructs: Achieving Cellular Selectivity Through Modifications of Physical and Chemical Properties”, Applied Sciences 10(19), 6911 (2020) doi: 10.3390/app10196911
  • M. Nair, R. K. Johal, S. W. Hamaia, S.M. Best and R.E. Cameron, ”Tunable bioactivity and mechanics of collagen-based tissue engineering constructs: A comparison of EDC-NHS, genipin and TG2 crosslinkers”, Biomaterials 120109 (2020) doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2020.120109
  • M. Nair, J. H. Shepherd, S.M. Best and R.E. Cameron, ”MicroCT analysis of connectivity in porous structures: optimizing data acquisition and analytical methods in the context of tissue engineering”, Journal of the Royal Society Interface 17(165) (2020):20190833 doi:10.1098/rsif.2019.0833
  • M. Nair, Y. Calahorra, S. Kar-Narayan, S.M. Best and R.E. Cameron, ”Self-assembly of collagen bundles and enhanced piezoelectricity induced by chemical crosslinking”, Nanoscale, 11(32), 15120-15130 (2019) doi:10.1039/c9nr04750f
  • M. Nair, A. Husmann, R.E. Cameron and S.M. Best “In situ ESEM imaging of the vapor-pressure-dependent sublimation-induced morphology of ice”, Physical Review Materials 2, 2(4) (2018) 040401 doi: 10.1103/PhysRevMaterials.2.040401