Glass-based (bio)materials

The glass is an omnipresent material in our lives, starting from glassware for everyday use, through building glass, and ending with glasses for special applications e.g. optical glasses or biomedical glasses. Such a wide variety of applications for glasses is possible due to their versatile properties, which can be obtained through the appropriate selection of glass compositions. In the group of vitreous materials with specific chemical (but also mechanical and optical) parameters, an important role is played by glasses and glass-ceramic materials for medical applications. Our current research is focused on 3 groups of materials: bioactive glasses used for bone tissue regeneration and known for their potential applications in tissue engineering; glass-ceramic materials for aesthetic dentistry applications, and organic-inorganic hybrid materials with antibacterial activity, for potential use as coatings on metallic implants. Research in the field of bioactive glasses includes developing or introducing modifications of bioactive glasses chemical compositions (silicate glasses, borate glasses) and methods of their synthesis (melting, sol-gel, evaporation-induced self-assembly method) as well as evaluating their bioactivity and osteoconductive/osteoinductive potential as a function of chemical composition, structural and textural parameters. The structural specificity of glasses enables introducing modifications into their structure, and thus upgrading them with e.g. antibacterial, antioxidant or angiogenic properties. In the field of research on glass-ceramic materials, there are designing both the composition of base glasses, and the parameters of the directed crystallization process, which determine appropriate phase composition, mechanical, chemical and aesthetic parameters of obtained materials, which will allow their use in aesthetic dentistry. Another group of materials are organic-inorganic hybrid coatings for metallic implants. Ongoing research is related to the development of the coatings chemical composition, methods of application and hardening of coatings, which will ensure them antibacterial properties and high biocompatibility.

Composite (bio)materials

The search for new materials fulfilling the growing requirements of many industries has been focused on composite materials for years. Composite materials can possess improved functional properties in comparison with the properties of their component materials. For that reason, biodegradable polymer-ceramic composites are of particular interest in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Designing and manufacturing of such materials are based on imitating of structure and properties of natural tissues, which are also composites themselves. The subject of research conducted by our team concerns the possibility of modifying a biodegradable polymer matrix (synthetic or natural) with bioactive glass particles with varied characteristics to obtain multifunctional composite materials for potential applications in regenerative medicine and bone/cartilage/soft tissue engineering. The main idea behind the biomedical applications of glasses is to use their bioactive properties in a final composite product to improve its integration and/or repair of the supplemented tissue (e.g., in the case of bone tissue - to generate osteoinduction and angiogenesis by the final composite material). We design composites on a polymer matrix in the forms of films, membranes, and scaffolds using numerous manufacturing methods (solution casting, solution casting with porogen leaching, phase inversion, electrospinning, and 3D printing). Depending on the used polymer matrix, the type of bioactive glass and the manufacturing method, it is possible to control many materials properties directly determining their biological response. Moreover, we use this type of materials as delivery systems for natural, biologically active compounds (extracts of polyphenolic compounds). Our research on composite materials also includes hydrogel materials based on biopolymers from the polysaccharides and proteins groups. The conducted research concerns primarily designing and optimizing the manufacturing technique of materials for specific applications (injectable materials, tissue scaffolds), selecting appropriate methods of biopolymer cross-linking (chemical/thermal) as well as the determining a possibility of introducing both bioactive particles and biologically active substances into the polymer matrix to increase their biofunctionality.