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Host Introduction

Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) the SFI Centre for photonics, is Ireland’s centre of excellence for research, innovation and PhD training in photonics – the science and application of light. We are a diverse team of over 200 researchers located across Ireland’s leading universities and technological institutes, working together to deliver research excellence, transitioning this research into market leading products with over 30 industry partners, and training future photonics research leaders. We develop next generation products across Ireland’s high growth technology sectors such as ICT and MedTech. IPIC is based in Tyndall National Institute, Cork. Tyndall National Institute is a leading European deep-tech research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) hardware and systems.

STEM Teacher Intern Role

Research Project Background: 

Bone damage affects over 100 million individuals within Europe, totaling €37.5 billion for osteoporotic bone damage alone (Nasello, G., 2021). Traditional treatment approaches involve autologous bone grafting to support osteogenesis, with engineered bone implants becoming a popular regenerative medicine alternative. High failure rates (2-62%) of these implants (Zuo, W., 2016) create a crucial need to improve newly formed bone quality and reduce healing times. A hydrogel-based bone-on-chip (BOC) device coupled to a non ionising optical spectroscopic technique allows for non-invasive, long-term monitoring of osteogenic progression in bone implants, understand bone formation mechanisms on hydrogel scaffolds and evaluate hydrogel scaffold quality. 


Below are research activities that you would be expected to undertake during this project, however, these may vary depending on your preferences as well as the progression of the project. Further information, resources and training would be provided to the successful candidate. 

  • Prepare PEGDM hydrogels of varying compositions by photopolymerisation with the aid of a photo initiator and a UV light source
  • Acquire Raman spectra of the hydrogel samples
  • Perform mechanical characterisation of cured hydrogel samples
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Investigating correlations between mechanical properties and pore size of PEGDM hydrogels
  • Optional/Time-Permitting Research Activities
  • Repeat the process for Agarose hydrogels which would be used as a control experiment
  • Cell culture studies on optimal hydrogel substrates

Predicted results and impact: 

Owing to its ability to promote osteogenesis (Lin-Gibson, S, 2004), the suitability of poly(ethyleneglycol) dimethacrylate (PEGDM) hydrogels as a BOC substrate with respect to its mechanical characteristics would be evaluated in this study. Given adequate time, agarose hydrogels may be evaluated as a control substrate.

Participating Years


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