Facilities & equipment

This includes an extensive range of synthetic and analytical equipment for the production and characterisation of small molecules, polymeric materials and subsequent analysis of their biological interactions, particularly those related to surface and interfacial behavior. Instruments include NMR, fluorescence, ES-MS and Maldi TOF, IR and fluorescence microscopes, and tissue culture facilities together with extensive synthetic polymer scale-up and fabrication facilities.

The Biomaterials Research Unit at Aston has established laboratories which include not only standard analytical techniques and an extensive range of novel techniques for investigating the complex behaviour and interaction of materials with the biological environment. These include:
  • Dynamic vapour sorption (DVS) - for assessment of natural and synthetic tissue analogues hydration/dehydration characteristics 
  • Contact angle (static) - surface energy of material
  • Contact angle (dynamic) - wetting hysteresis  
  • Plasma etching and emission monitoring system (PEEMS) - matrix-located protein and lipid  
  • Pulsating bubble tensiometry - dynamic tear surface tension  
  • Spinning drop tensiometry - tear aqueous surface activity
  • Sliding friction - biotribiology of tear-lens interface
  • Nanobiotribometry for assessment of lubricity and frictional characteristics of natural and synthetic tissue analogues  
  • Fluorescence spectroscopy - surface protein and lipid
  • High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) - for individual lipid layer composition

  • Liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry (LC-MS) - for individual lipid layer composition
  • Capillary electrophoresis with mass spectrometry - detection of proteins in biological fluids
  • Ion Chromatography - for assessment of ionic monomers and inorganic components
  • ELISA - Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay
  • Mini and micro Langmuir Blodgetry - spreading pressure and film stability of tear lipids
  • Brewster angle microscopy - imaging and analysis of interfacial activity
  • Immunodiffusion assays - detection of proteins in biological fluids e.g. tears
  • Agilent Lab-on-a-chip Bioanalyser - detection of proteins in biological fluids
  • Tissue culture laboratory - cytotoxicity testing and antibody assays
SpectraMax M2
Anisa Mahomed using the SpectraMax M2
The combination of these techniques allows a comprehensive insight into the complex responses of materials with biological fluids, which cannot be achieved by the use of any single technique, used in isolation.

Taken together with specifically designed biochemical and biological assay procedures, they provide a platform both for fundamental work in biomaterials science and the development of improved biomaterials.