Rosalind Teo Ling Wei
"I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to be involved in a research project with real life changing benefits. The experience gained this summer will greatly benefit me as I hopefully aim to work towards a career in scientific research."
In summer 2008 , Rosalind joined Dr Ifty Ahmed in the Engineering Department at Nottingham University for eight weeks to work on a complex project involving medical fibres.
Rose explained that current bone fracture fixation devices are mainly made from metals like titanium and stainless steel and this has several disadvantages, including:
(i) Revision surgery (to remove the implant)
(ii) Stress shielding due to mismatch of mechanical properties between bone and fracture fixation device
(iii) Paediatric growth restrictions
(iv) Leaching of metallic ions
Biodegradable polymers have been suggested as alternatives to these metallic devices, however; polymers alone do not possess sufficient mechanical properties to match cortical bone. Phosphate based glass (PGB) fibres are currently being researched to reinforce these degradable medical polymers such as poly lactic acid (PLA) and polycaprolactone (PCL) for use as resorbable bone fracture fixation devices. These fibres are currently produced using an in-house built fibre-rig via the melt draw technique. However, there is a lot of glass and fibre wastage associated with this mainly due to fibre breakage.
Rose's aim was to investigate the production optimisation of these specialist medical fibres. Her intense research produced a significant amount of data; the glass fluid flow control parameters were identified and the thermal environment around the furnace and fibres was also successfully modeled. Alternative nozzle shapes were investigated and results obtained suggested that tapered nozzles were a more appropriate design for optimization of fibre production.
Speaking of her experience, Rose said:
"The time spent conducting research over the summer was an invaluable opportunity for me to experience scientific research and further develop my analytical, report writing and communication skills. I gave a verbal presentation to a mixed group of peers and academics, and also prepared a poster for a further presentation. The interaction between myself, the academics and the schools involved (Engineering and Mathematics) was hugely supportive and I am indebted to all who helped and advised me. "