Health and Quality of Life
Materials engineers are an integral part of the new bioengineering fields where biomaterials are playing a very significant role in improving the quality of life for thousands of patients. New developments are being made daily in this active field with the push towards creating better ways of integrating synthetic materials with natural ones. This includes designing ways of delivering drugs on implants so as to reduce the time that patients must spend recovering from surgery. It also means improving the durability and therefore the lifespan of biomaterials when implanted within the body.
The significance of this new field for the future has been recognized recently through the award of the 2008 Millennium Technology Prize, which some say is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineering.
About the image above: Prof. Chad Sinclair, Department of Materials Engineering, shows an Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene acetabular cup (white) and stainless steel hip prosthesis. Once only for elderly patients in extreme pain, hip replacement surgery is now common with patients ranging from grandparents to elite athletes. What has changed? A remarkable evolution in the engineering of the prostheses used to replace the patient’s worn joint.