Nanofibre Technology: So Little For So Much For So Many
Nanofibrous materials are the fundamental building blocks of living systems. They can be used for so many things-from nanowires and supercapacitors for microelectronics, to energy transport, conversion and storage systems such as fuel cells. They also have multiple uses in medicine-from drug transport within the body and orthopaedic implants, to biomedical devices such as scaffolds for tissue engineering.
Tissue engineering scaffolds are artificial structures into which cells are implanted to allow for the growth and formation of living tissue used for repairs to skin, cartilage and other organs or tissues. The use of biologically active nanofibres for tissue engineering scaffolds and conductive nanofibres has been the subject of pioneering work carried out by Canada Research Chair Frank Ko, a leading expert in the field of composite materials. Ko is particularly interested in complex fibre architecture, design, and manufacturing and his work has helped to shape the emerging world of nanofibre technology.
As the Canada Research Chair in Advanced Fibrous Materials, Ko is studying the synthesis, assembly and characterization of biologically active, electrically active and multifunctional nanofibres. He and his research team work with all kinds of biological materials ranging from individual protein nanofibres to surgical implants made from nanofibres.
Demand for scaffolds and other biomedical implants and devices is increasing as our population ages, creating tremendous technological and economic potential for nanofibres. The availability of nanoscale fibres having adjustable electronic, biological and mechanical properties is creating the enabling technology for biotechnology, neuroscience, microelectronics and nanoscience research. Ko's work is contributing greatly to Canada's leadership in this burgeoning technology.