Plasma technology breakthrough

Karen Lai

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CityU's Plasma Laboratory has unveiled two breakthrough inventions that will help patients with artificial bones, heart valves and blood vessel stents.

One involves improving the X-ray contrast of the materials in vascular stents. By implanting a heavy element, such as tantalum, into a stent, X-ray contrast is improved significantly while not compromising the stent's flexibility or inertness. The tantalum stent is currently being developed commercially in Germany.

Professor Paul Chu, Chair Professor of Materials Engineering, also applied the plasma technology to help improve the mechanical and biomedical properties of artificial heart valves. In collaboration with Southwest Jiaotong University, the research team conducted laboratory experiments and tests on animals and proved that the modified artificial heart valves can improve blood coagulation problems by reducing significantly the number of blood platelets adhering to the surface of the valves. This results in better blood compatibility.

The technology was developed at the Plasma Laboratory, which was established at CityU in 1996 through Research Grants Council funding.

Professor Paul Chu, Chair Professor of Materials Engineering, has been named a co-investigator with Professor Marcela Bilek and Professor David McKenzie of the University of Sydney of an AUD $477,000 biomedical research project funded by the Australian Research Council.

Over the past three years, Professor Chu and his research team have published three books and over 260 articles in scientific publications, with 120 in international refereed journals. An expert in the field of plasma science and engineering, ion implantation, and semiconductor processing, Professor Chu has also received seven patents in the US.

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