Li (Alan) Zhong, Singapore

Alan obtained his Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering & Automation from the South China University of Technology, China. He has been pursuing his PhD at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore since August 2012.

His PhD study is focused on the high-energy processing, specifically spark plasma sintering and plasma spraying, of bioceramics and Bioglass for hard tissue repair and regeneration. He is also a materials engineer in the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) - NTU joint R&D project on the fabrication of artificial corneal skirts. This project aims at replacing the tooth skirt used in the 'tooth-in-eye' surgery with the bioceramic titania, which has great potential for simplifying the procedure and reducing patients' suffering. This perfectly exemplifies the innovative application of a mature materials technology in solving complicated medical problems.

Artificial Corneal Implants: A Brighter Future with Advanced Bioceramics

According to the World Health Organisation, corneal blindness is the fourth leading cause of blindness globally (5.1%), and is one of the major causes of visual deficiency. Traditionally, tooth-in-eye implants have been utilised to treat patients with hostile ocular environments. However, the use of a tooth lamina as the skirt requires a complex two-stage procedure and makes the surgery extremely invasive.

This presentation describes the enormous potential of bioceramics in the fabrication of artificial corneal skirts. Two different bioceramics, hydroxyapatite (HA) and titania (TiO2) were consolidated by spark plasma sintering, and the pellets were characterised in terms of corrosion resistance and biocompatibility. It was found that TiO2 showed superior corrosion resistance and possessed comparable biocompatibility to that of HA, which has long been regarded as a biocompatibility gold standard.

It is thus believed that using TiO2-based bioceramics to manufacture artificial corneal implants will bring a brighter future for patients with corneal blindness worldwide.


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