Ultrasound (high-frequency pressure waves) can be used to remotely interact with cells, biomaterials, and tissues. A major focus of our research is the development of new ultrasound-based technologies for driving the assembly of biomaterials and engineered tissues.

  • Acoustic Cell Patterning for Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering: We have pioneered the use of ultrasound standing waves to remotely pattern living cells for musculoskeletal tissue engineering (see our review in Trends in Biotechnology 2020). This includes the patterning of skeletal myoblasts to engineer muscle tissue with aligned bundles of myotubes and anisotropic tensile properties (Advanced Materials 2018) and the patterning of chondrocytes to engineer deep-zone cartilage tissue with oriented collagen fibers (Advanced Healthcare Materials 2022). We have also developed an analytical framework for the quantitative optimization of experimental parameters that affect ultrasound-based cell patterning, such as frequency, amplitude, and material viscosity (Lab on a Chip 2019).
  • Ultrasound Manipulation: Mario Ortega Sandoval developed ultrasound tweezers that could be used to manipulate large particles underwater. Working with Martha Lavelle, we demonstrated proof-of-concept manipulation of fixed neuroectoderm aggregates, paving the way toward a new biofabrication technology (Applied Physics Letters 2024).
  • Ultrasound-triggered Enzyme Catalysis and Enzymatic Hydrogelation: This study was led by Dr Valeria Nele during her PhD at Imperial College. We used ultrasound to controllably permeabilize calcium-loaded liposomes, releasing the ion cargo to activate an enzyme (transglutaminase) and catalyze the gelation of fibrinogen (Advanced Materials 2020).