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Dynamic Bio-Interfacing Functional Materials

Tuesday, February 14, 2023
9:30 am - 10:30 am

Location: NHB 1.720

Functional materials with dynamic mechanical properties are needed to enable next-generation medical technologies to be less invasive and more convenient for patients. However, imparting dynamic properties like stretchability and injectability often comes at the expense of functional performance. In this talk, I will show how soft matter can enable bio-interfacing materials to circumvent the tradeoff between dynamism and functionality for two particularly difficult use cases: bio-electronics and load-bearing materials.

First, bio-electronic devices traditionally are limited by their extreme mismatch in mechanical properties compared to soft tissues. We addressed this mismatch by harnessing the toolkit of polymer science and engineering to design novel conductors that are as soft as biological tissue, stretchable enough to conform to moving organ surfaces, and capable of being injected without sacrificing conductivity.

Next, high-strength metal-based devices like orthopedic implants typically require invasive insertion and retrieval methods, while passively-degradable metals continuously weaken over time. To eliminate the need for device retrieval without compromising on mechanical properties, we used a biocompatible liquid metal to develop a strategy to trigger the on-demand breakdown of high-strength biomedical metals.

These examples highlight the significant potential for soft matter to transform next-generation biomaterials and medical devices. I will conclude the talk by sharing my vision of a generalizable design strategy for realizing dynamic bio-interfacing functional materials.

 

Dr. Vivian Feig is a Schmidt Science Fellow and postdoctoral researcher in the labs of Prof. Giovanni Traverso and Prof. Robert Langer at MIT and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  Trained as a materials engineer, Dr. Feig designs novel bio-interfacing systems with unprecedented functionalities to enhance human health. In 2020, she received her Ph.D. from Stanford University with Prof. Zhenan Bao. As a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) fellow at Stanford, Vivian designed new conducting polymer-based materials to address the challenge of intimately coupling electronics with biological systems, which is critical for emerging therapies in areas like neuromodulation and regenerative medicine. Her research culminated in numerous honors, including the 2022 American Chemical Society (ACS) Global Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Polymer Science and Engineering, as well as selection to the graduate award symposia of the Materials Research Society (MRS) and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Besides research, she is also passionate about mentorship and scientific outreach, and was honored to receive the 2020 MRS Arthur Nowick Graduate Student Award for her efforts in these areas.

Speaker: Dr. Vivian Feig, MIT