Virtual ExperienceMarch 31, 2020

Academic Perspectives on Sustainability: Luka Pocivavsek

This article was first published in the first edition of REVEAL Magazine…
Avatar Katie Corey

This article was first published in the first edition of REVEAL Magazine in September 2019.

Academic Perspectives on Sustainability 

Researchers, professors, students and others working in academia are at the forefront of shaping the future of our world and in many cases, they are using simulation, design and engineering to do so. In this section of REVEAL Magazine, we hear directly from academics about their perspective on important trends and topics and learn about some of the work they are doing to create the future.

This edition of REVEAL focuses on sustainability and we ask academics to tell us about how sustainability plays a role in the work that they do across various industries including additive manufacturing, life sciences, transportation and mobility, and renewable energy.


Vascular Surgery Fellow at University of Chicago

Medical simulation has a huge impact on the  advancement  of  medical treatments. You co-founded Aruga, a medical device company specializing in vascular implants. However, your approach is different from traditional practices. You created a nature-inspired design of synthetic vascular reconstruction devices and successfully doubled the implant lifetime. Can you talk more about the importance of studying the intersection of nature and simulation, and the ability it gives to visualize the effectiveness of a treatment without resorting to  experimental surgeries?

Simulation is critical to integrating novel nature-inspired concepts into medical devices. Our approach capitalizes on the dynamic nature of arterial surfaces and integrates this into a unique vascular graft. These systems quickly become highly complex and involve interaction between a compliant graft, a dynamic pressure field, fluid flow, and surface fouling. To solve such a problem involves capturing correctly the geometrically non-linear elastic deformation of the graft surface, coupling the forces from the fluid to the solid deformation, and correctly modeling the interaction  of platelets adhering to and de-adhering from the graft surface. Using Abaqus/Explicit, FSI, and advanced cohesive modeling, this complex simulation can be undertaken. On the basic-science side, it provides us with a tool to test the hypothesis of topography-driven de-adhesion, thus validating the physics behind our approach. On the applied clinical side, having an integrated simulation in place, allows us to do vast parameter sweeps of the different variables in our problem. Medical devices are often designed and tested under ideal conditions. However, these devices, when implanted, exist in a variety of complex loading conditions and under variable levels of fouling. Simulations allow us to test the behavior of our device under the various ranges of conditions may be encountered by the device during its lifetime. For instance, in the case of topographic grafts, the arterial-pulse pressure drives surface actuation. However, normal pulse pressure varies with distance from the heart, the mean arterial pressure, and even heart rate. Integrating these parameters into an experimental pre-implantation study would be nearly impossible. Simulation provides the answer and even allows the  personalization  of a given device to a particular operation. (L. Pocivavsek, J. Pugar, S. Velankar, E. Tzeng, W. Wagner, and Cerda, Geometric Tools for Controlling Soft Surface Adhesion, Nature Physics, 14, 948-953 (2018).

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