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UT Dallas awarded $1 million to improve prosthetics for soldiers
Date:12/17/2013

Dr. Walter Voit, assistant professor of materials science and engineering and mechanical engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas, has been awarded $1 million to create medical devices that will lead to greater control of prosthetics in wounded soldiers.

Voit was one of 25 junior faculty members in the country selected to receive a DARPA Young Faculty Award. The long-term goal of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program is to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers who will focus their careers and research on Department of Defense and national security issues. More than 200 junior faculty applied to receive part of the more than $12 million awarded.

"Dr. Voit is a pioneer in our department by developing materials for critical medical applications," said Dr. Yves Chabal, holder of the Texas Instruments Distinguished University Chair in Nanoelectronics and head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. "This award underscores the importance of the technology and his leading role in the field."

Current prosthetics and other implantable medical devices often fail within a year because tissue separates from the device. This can cause bleeding and scar tissue, which ultimately can prevent the device from stimulating the targeted nerve.

The devices are also too large to operate with tissues as small as specific nerves.

Voit has created shape memory polymers materials that can respond to the body's environment and become less rigid when implanted in the body. These polymers are implanted when they're rigid and then flex toward the stiffness of the tissue. Voit's proposal called for using these polymers in the microfabrication process known as photolithography to create medical devices that will survive implantation in the body for more than one year.

"A chronically-stable interface with the body's nervous s
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Contact: LaKisha Ladson
lakisha.ladson@UTDallas.edu
972-883-4183
University of Texas at Dallas
Source:Eurekalert

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