Innovative materials

Research Associate, Imperial College London
Line manager: Professor Molly Stevens
Dates: 2016 - Present

I currently work in the Stevens Group at Imperial College London, working on new innovative materials for biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine applications. Currently I work on two main areas: nanoneedles as a cell-material interfacing platform; and organic bioelectronic devices for biosensing. 

I make nanoneedles - a bed of tiny nails, each point smaller than a thousandth of the width of a human hair. We use these needles in many applications; we place cells on top of nanoneedles and observe how they behave. Rather than being speared by the needle, cells often contort and move around them in interesting ways. Understanding how they do can teach us more about the mechanisms cells use to control their interaction with the environment around them. We can also coat nanoneedles with different drugs, and use them to nano-inject into cells and tissue more effectively than by normal techniques.

I also work to develop organic bioelectronic devices. Organic bioelectronics uses carbon-based materials that can conduct electricity (for example special kinds of plastics) to build devices that can either directly interact with living things. Unlike silicon-based electronics, where the electrical charge is carried by electrons, organic bioelectronic devices are also sensitive to ions (which are used to transmit electrical signals inside living things). Devices can also be readily modified and manufactured using methods such as inkjet-printing, rather than more complex processing techniques. I'm researching how we can use new organic bioelectronic materials and devices to make better sensors for detecting disease.

Silicon nanoneedles © Stuart Higgins 2018

Silicon nanoneedles © Stuart Higgins 2018