Mentor: Dr. Michele Manuel
College of Engineering
"I got involved with research to help discover ways to increase the overall quality of life and learn the different aspects of Materials Science and Engineering."
Materials Science and Engineering
Phi Kappa Phi
Hobbies and Interests
- Watching Movies
Biodegradable Magnesium Alloys for use as Medical Implants
In the last century modern medical technology has experienced exponential growth, in part due to an increased understanding of the relationship between the microstructure and the mechanical properties of materials. Many procedures, such as setting a broken wrist, commonly include the use of metal plating and screws that then require invasive secondary surgery to be removed, increasing the risk of infection. Creating medical screws with a new material that degrades over time and guides bone without impeding growth would reduce the risk of infection and eliminate the need for potentially dangerous secondary surgeries. Magnesium alloys are now being investigated as bioabsorbable replacements for current structural biomaterials that demonstrate promising degradation behavior inside the human body. Among its attractive attributes, Magnesium has a specific strength and elastic modulus that is closest to that of human bone. These similarities reduce the stress between the bone and implant and allow for a smaller amount of implant material for a given load. As an essential mineral for the body, magnesium is biocompatible and has been shown to aid in bone growth and healing, unlike commonly used implant materials, and its corrosion products are harmlessly secreted through urine. Investigation into the local change in chemistry around the threads may shed light on the long term toxicity of magnesium or what role thread distance plays in the degradation process. Understanding of local chemistry around the threads is also important for preventing localized corrosion, or pitting. The presence of pitting could lead to aggravation around the implantation site or an increase in local cytotoxicity. More importantly, pitting reduces the mechanical integrity of the implant, whose purpose is to provide structural support. Research will focus on the relationship between the screw design and microstructure during degradation. Technical challenges include determining if the opening in bone after degradation will self-heal in the absence of the screw, the rate at which the threads of the screw degrade and if the screw can be dislodged during degradation.