Emma Westas

Project description

Nanotechnology and the development of new nanomaterials has become a large research area with many new industrial applications and products. Among these are the design of novel implant surfaces with better tissue integration and lowered risk of infection, and the production of nanoparticles used in a number of different everyday products, e.g. sun screens and clothes. An increased understanding of the interaction between biological systems and nanostructured materials is of interest in the development of these materials, but also concerning their toxic effects.

There are several physicochemical benefits of using nanostructures at the surface of biomaterials including the larger surface area available for protein adsorption, increased hydrophilicity and increased reactivity of the surface making the proteins unfold and behave differently. However, it is not fully understood how proteins and other biomolecules behave at the interface and how this behaviour further affects coagulation, inflammation, cell adhesion and wound healing but also bacterial attachment and colonisation. The potential toxicity of nanomaterials is also an important aspect. For instance, nanoparticles entering the blood stream will instantly be covered by proteins adsorbing onto the surface of the nanoparticles, which further affects the biological response. Furthermore, how different chemistry, size and curvature of nanoparticles influence protein adsorption is not very well understood.

Therefore, the objectives of my PhD project are to study the interaction of nanostructured biomaterials and nanoparticles in our surrounding with living matter. In order to achieve these objectives I immobilise nanoparticles onto surfaces and study its effect on cells, bacteria and proteins. Moreover, blood protein interactions with nanoparticles free in dispersion are also investigated. Various nanoparticles commonly used in industry, everyday products or as potential implant material coatings are applied and studied, such as titanium dioxide, hydroxyapatite, silica and gold.


Emma Westas, PhD student
Chalmers University of Technology
Chemical and Biological Engineering
Applied Surface Chemistry
SE-412 96 Göteborg
Phone +46 31 772 2957
Mobile +46 73 622 56 17