Biomedical Materials

3G5 Biomaterials

timing: Lent term, 16 lectures
assessment: written exam (1.5 hours) at the start of Easter term

The aim is to develop an understanding of the materials issues associated with implanting man-made materials in the human body for medical purposes. Specific case studies will be considered in addition to the general framework.

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Identify the mechanism by which medical devices and implants come to market
  • Know about the classes of and materials used in medicine
  • Understand the requirements for materials used in the body and assess potential for implant-body interactions
  • Perform quantitative evaluations of drug delivery
  • Identify appropriate tissue engineering approaches for different tissues and organs

Leader: external link: Dr. Michelle Oyen
Additional lecturers: Dr. R. Busch (Addenbrookes), external link: Dr A.E. Markaki


Introductory Concepts (2L, Dr. M. Oyen)

  • Introduction
    • Classes of materials used in medicine
  • Legal framework for implanted materials
    • Ethics and clinical trials
    • Regulatory (FDA, EC Medical Devices Directives, MHRA)
  • Sterilization

Immune response to implants (2L Dr. R. Busch, Addenbrookes)

  • Effect of implant on the body
    • Inflammation, wound healing
    • Biocompatibility assessment assays

Implant response to biological environments (2L, Dr. M. Oyen)

  • Effect of body on the implant
    • Corrosion
    • Degradation
  • Implant retrieval and failure analysis

Degradable biomaterials and tissue engineering (4L, Dr. M. Oyen)

  • Materials-based systems
    • Diffusion-driven systems
      • Quantative diffusion
    • Osmotically-controlled systems
      • Flux of water across semipermeable membranes
    • Microencapsulation
  • Tissue engineering basics
    • Scaffolds, cell seeding, bioreactors
  • Sutures and resorbable polymers
    • Polymer resorbtion kinetics
    • trade offs with tissue synthesis
  • Transport of nutrients, oxygen, waste in engineered devices

Materials for load-bearing implants (6L)

  • Materials for bone implants (2L Dr. M. Oyen)
    • Solid and Porous Metals for Femoral Stem Component
    • Surface Coatings for Biocompatibility and Bioactivity
      • Mechanisms of Adhesion and Methods
    • Thin and Thick Surface Coatings
      • Residual Stresses
  • Materials for cardiovascular stents (4L Dr. A. Markaki)
    • Ballon Expandable and Self Expanding
    • Mechanical properties
      • Axial & Torsional Stiffness,
      • Yielding Pressure
      • Axial Contraction Ratio
    • Shape Memory Materials
      • Nitinol- Superelasticity and Shape Memory Effects


Essay-based project: Biomineralisation: apatite formation in simulated body fluid.


  • Ratner BD, et al. Biomaterials Science: An Introduction to Materials in Medicine, Elsevier, 2004.
  • Park J, Lakes R. Biomaterials: An Introduction. Springer, 2007.
  • Hench L, Jones J. Biomaterials, Artificial Organs and Tissue Engineering. Woodhead Publishing, 2005.
  • Otsuka K, Wayman CM. Shape Memory Materials. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Fung YC. Biomechanics: Mechanical Properties of Living Tissues (2nd edition). Springer-Verlag, 1993.
  • Mow VC, Huiskes R. Basic Orthopaedic Biomechanics and Mechanobiology (3rd edition). Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2005.

see also external link: Booklist for IIA courses