Dr Bin Zhu
Academic and research departmentsSchool of Mechanical Engineering Sciences, Centre for Engineering Materials.
In this work, novel bioinspired polyurethane (PU) scaffolds were fabricated via freeze casting for PU-based Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) model. In order to reproduce the tumour micro-environment that facilitates cellular kinetics, the PU scaffolds were surface modified with extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins including collagen and fibronectin (Col and FN). Synchrotron-based small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS) techniques were applied to probe structural evolution during in situ mechanical testing. Strains at macroscopic, nano-, and lattice scales were obtained to investigate the effects of ECM proteins and pancreatic cell activities to PU scaffolds. Significant mechanical strengthening across length scales of PU scaffolds was observed in specimens surface modified by FN. A model of stiffness modulation via enhanced interlamellar recruitment is proposed to explain the multi-scale strengthening mechanisms. Understanding multi-scale deformation mechanisms of a series of PU scaffolds opens an opportunity in developing a novel pancreatic cancer model for studying cancer evolution and predicting outcomes of drug/treatments.
In this manuscript, we elucidated, for the first time, the substructural mechanisms present in our recently developed bioinspired polyurethane-based pancreatic tissue models. Different protein coatings of the model, i.e., collagen and fibronectin were examined. More specifically, analysis took place by combined real-time synchrotron X-ray scattering techniques and confocal laser scanning microscopy, to quantify the structural alteration of uncoated-polyurethane (PU) and protein-coated PU as well as the time-resolved structural reorganisation occurring at the micro-, nano- and lattice length scales during in situ micromechanical testing. We demonstrate that a clear increase of stiffness at the lamellar level following the fibronectin-PU modification, which is linked to the changes in the mechanics of the lamellae and interlamellar cohesion. This multi-level analysis of structural-mechanical relations in this polyurethane-based pancreatic cancer tissue model opens an opportunity in designing mechanically robust cost-effective tissue models not only for fundamental research but also for treatment screening.
Objective Dental erosion is a common oral condition caused by chronic exposure to acids from intrinsic/extrinsic sources. Repeated acid exposure can lead to the irreversible loss of dental hard tissues (enamel, dentine, cementum). Dentine can become exposed to acid following severe enamel erosion, crown fracture, or gingival recession. Causing hypersensitivity, poor aesthetics, and potential pulp involvement. Improving treatments that can restore the structural integrity and aesthetics are therefore highly desirable. Such developments require a good understanding of how acid demineralisation progresses where relatively little is known in terms of intertubular dentine (ITD) and peritubular dentine (PTD) microstructure. To obtain further insight, this study proposes a new in vitro method for performing demineralisation studies of dentine. Methods Advanced high-speed synchrotron X-ray microtomography (SXM), with high spatial (0.325 µm) and temporal (15 min) resolution, was used to conduct the first in vitro, time-resolved 3D (4D) study of the microstructural changes in the ITD and PTD phases of human dentine samples (~0.8×0.8×5 mm) during 6 h of continuous acid exposure.
•Through-thickness residual stress distribution in three dimensions is evaluated.•High-resolution residual strain is mapped by neutron Bragg edge imaging.•Location-dependent reference lattice spacing is first applied on neutron imaging.•Correlation between microstructure, residual stress and micro-hardness is studied. Eurofer97 steel is a primary structural material for applications in fusion reactors. Laser welding is a promising technique to join Eurofer97 plasma-facing components and overcome remote handling and maintenance challenges. The interaction of the induced residual stress and the heterogeneous microstructure degrades the mechanical performance of such fusion components. The present study investigates the distribution of residual stresses of as-welded and post-heat treated Eurofer97 joints. The mechanistic connections between microstructure, material properties, and residual stress are also studied. The neutron diffraction is used to study the through-thickness residual stress distribution in three directions, and neutron Bragg edge imaging (NBEI) is applied to study the residual strain in high spatial resolution. The microstructures and micro-hardness are characterised by electron backscatter diffraction and nanoindentation, respectively. The M-shaped residual stress distribution through the thickness of the as-welded weldment is observed by neutron diffraction line scans over a region of 1.41 × 10 mm2. These profiles are cross-validated over a larger area (∼56 × 40 mm2) with the higher spatial resolution by NBEI. The micro-hardness value in the fusion zone of the as-welded sample almost doubles from 2.75 ± 0.09 GPa to 5.06 ± 0.29 GPa due to a combination of residual stress and cooling-induced martensite. Conventional post weld heat treatment (PWHT) is shown to release ∼ 90% of the residual stress but not fully restore the microstructure. By comparing its hardness with that of stress-free samples, it is found that the microstructure is the primary contribution to the hardening. This study provides insight into the prediction of structural integrity for critical structural components of fusion reactors.
The plasma-facing components of future fusion reactors, where the Eurofer97 is the primary structural material, will be assembled by laser-welding techniques. The heterogeneous residual stress induced by welding can interact with the microstructure, resulting in a degradation of mechanical properties and a reduction in joint lifetime. Here, a Xe+ plasma focused ion beam with digital image correlation (PFIB-DIC) and nanoindentation is used to reveal the mechanistic connection between residual stress, microstructure, and microhardness. This study is the first to use the PFIB-DIC to evaluate the time-resolved multiscale residual stress at a length scale of tens of micrometers for laser-welded Eurofer97. A nonequilibrium microscale residual stress is observed, which contributes to the macroscale residual stress. The microhardness is similar for the fusion zone and heat-affected zone (HAZ), although the HAZ exhibits around ~30% tensile residual stress softening. The results provide insight into maintaining structural integrity for this critical engineering challenge.