Nano-onion necklaces and graphene flake decorated polyaniline: biodegradable nanowires for neuroregenerative medicine
"The potential impact on society of using a conduit interfaced with nanowires for neuroregeneration makes this project really exciting to work on."
Joe Smith, Dr Richard Jackman
A neuron is a cell that transmits electrical signals and can be thought of as an analogue to digital converter. It takes in multiple inputs from branched dendrites and sends a pulse response along its long tail or axon. Neurons form a network through the body termed the peripheral nervous system. Damage to this network accounts for 3% of all trauma injuries. The established surgical technique is to harvest donor tissue to bridge between the nerve ends. Several difficulties occur here, donor tissue may be the wrong diameter or of insufficient length and harvesting surgery introduces disease termed donor site morbidity resulting in permanent sensory loss.
In this project Joe has been developing a nanostructured conduit, shown below, that approximates nerve stumps to constrain regeneration along its cylindrical axis. The base polymer, developed at UCL, retains mechanical strength in situ yet is biodegradable hence removal surgery is not required.
More recently Joe has just completed a 12 week studentship at CERN looking at the feasibility of putting graphene membranes in
detectors the detectors that are used in the Large Hadron Collider.
"This development of low cost free space optical links is important to me as it has the potential to dramatically increase the bandwidth of community wireless networks, offering better internet access for those who otherwise would not be able to obtain it."
Luka Mustafa, Dr Benn Thomsen
In his third year project Luka Mustafa developed a low cost free space optical link prototype providing 1Gb/s capacity over line of sight distances up to 100m. The system, shown below, used SFP modules, that are designed for fibre to the home applications, mounted in a specially design free-space collimation mount. A special cable that links the SFP collimation unit to the ethernet media converter and includes wireless remote power monitoring to enable alignment of the two units has been developed. The system is designed to provide a high capacity point-to-point link in order to extend the range and capacity of community wireless networks that provide internet connectivity to areas where it is not commercially viable for the incumbent providers.
Luka is continuing to develop an open source version of this project, called KORUZA, so that community networks can construct and deploy their own networks with Free Space optical links.