Research Training Group 2154 - Materials for Brain

Reneé Unbehau (at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands)

Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering, Corrosion Technology and Electrochemistry, Prof. Dr. Arjan Mol, TU Delft, The Netherlands (06.05.-26.05.2018 & 25.11.-15.12.2018)

My project aims to analyze the degradation of magnesium (Mg) based materials under brain-physiological and pathophysiological conditions to confirm the suitability of such materials as neural-implants and to tailor material properties. Therefore, one major objective of the project is to elucidate the processes involved in brain cell-material interaction. As part of this, I am particularly interested in investigating the interaction of extracellular matrix (ECM) compounds and cell metabolites with Mg.
During my time abroad, I worked at the Corrosion Technology and Electrochemistry group of Prof. Mol at TU Delft, which is highly specialized on local corrosion analysis, development of eco-friendly corrosion inhibitors and smart coatings, as well as on analyzing interfacial bonding of organic coatings and adhesives on metal (oxide) surfaces. Especially for the latter, they possess an attenuated total reflection (ATR) Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) equipment. Using this advanced spectroscopic method, I had the chance to study interaction mechanisms of selected bio-relevant compounds with Mg thin films directly at the compound-material interface over a period of time. This did not only improve my understanding of the processes involved in cell-material interaction and helped me progress in my PhD project, but also allowed me to learn a new and highly specialized technique. The friendly, familiar and supportive atmosphere in Prof. Mol’s group made my stay not only a productive but also a very pleasant one.
Besides outstanding research facilities, Delft also offered a lot of things to discover during the weekends since it is one of the oldest cities of the Netherlands, including the typical Dutch cityscape with grachten, delfts blauw potteries, or simply the enormous amount of cycle lanes, bicycles and cyclists. Although most Dutch people speak excellent English, I further had the opportunity to improve my Dutch language skills and to get to know Dutch culture a bit better.
Overall, the research stay abroad was a great experience, which I would gladly repeat any time.

Lib TU Delft