Ongoing research projects

IMMC

Ongoing research projects in iMMC (August 2022)


This a short description of research projects which are presently under progress in iMMC.
Hereunder, you may select one research direction or choose to apply another filter:

Biomedical engineering

Computational science

Civil and environmental engineering

Dynamical and electromechanical systems

Energy

Fluid mechanics

Processing and characterisation of materials

Chemical engineering

Solid mechanics


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List of projects related to: Biomedical engineering




ELSA, an ankle-foot prosthesis to restore amputees locomotion
Researcher: François Heremans
Supervisor(s): Renaud Ronsse

Over the last decade, active lower-limb prostheses demonstrated their ability to restore a physiological gait for lower-limb amputees by supplying the required positive energy balance during daily life locomotion activities.
However, the added-value of such devices is significantly impacted by their limited energetic autonomy, excessive weight and cost preventing their full appropriation by the users. There is thus a strong incentive to produce active yet affordable, lightweight and energy efficient devices.
To address these issues, we are developing the ELSA (Efficient Lockable Spring Ankle) prosthesis embedding both a lockable parallel spring and a series elastic actuator, tailored to the walking dynamics of a sound ankle. The first contribution concerns the developement of a bio-inspired, lightweight and stiffness adjustable parallel spring, comprising an energy efficient ratchet and pawl mechanism with servo actuation. The second contribution is the addition of a complementary rope-driven series elastic actuator to generate the active push-off.
Our new system produces a sound ankle torque pattern during flat ground walking. Up to 50% of the peak torque is generated passively at a negligible energetic cost (0.1 J/stride). By design, the total system is lightweight (1.2 kg) and low cost.



FSO AVR-3D
Researcher: Xavier Bollen
Supervisor(s): Benoît Raucent

obtained his master's degree in electromechanical engineering, with specialization in mechatronics in 2011 from the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium. In 2016, he obtained his PhD degree from the UCL.
During his thesis, under the supervision of Pr. Benoît Raucent and Pr. Parla Astarci (Cliniques universitaires Saint Luc, Brussels), he developed a new device for minimally aortic valve resection. The device was used on patients undergoing open heart surgery in order to validate its design and its functional principle.
Now he still works on the design of the device and he also works on additive manufacturing inside the IMAP department. Since September 2015, he is invited lecturer at the Polytechnic School of Louvain where he teaches technical drawing to the first year bachelor's students in engineering.



A microCT-based approach for high-resolution characterization of biodegradable metallic intravascular stent materials
Researcher: Lisa Leyssens
Supervisor(s): Greet Kerckhofs, Pascal Jacques

The goal of my research project is to assess different potential biodegradable metallic intravascular stent materials using high-resolution 3D microfocus X-ray computed tomography (microCT). In a first step, the optimization of microCT and contrast-enhanced microCT (CECT) for the characterization of the 3D microstructure of different blood vessels is performed (aorta, femoral artery, vena cava). Then, this technique is applied to study the degradation behaviour of potential materials for biodegradable metallic intravascular stents. Structural properties are investigated. They are critical because they will influence the mechanical and in vivo behaviour of the stents. The materials (in the shape of wires) are screened to analyze the corrosion and surface changes, before and after immersion tests (in vitro part) and before and after implantation in rat arteries to additionally study interactions between the tissue (artery) and the metal (in vivo part).



Locomotion assistance through active motor primitives
Researcher: Henri Laloyaux
Supervisor(s): Renaud Ronsse

This project is about the development and validation of a new method for assisting human locomotion with robotic devices. It will be based on so-called “motor primitives”, i.e. fundamental units of action which have been identified in the human locomotor apparatus. These primitives will be constrained to be mathematical functions with a limited number of open parameters, therefore optimizing the computational efficiency. Next, the assistance will be designed to be adaptive to the user’s particular gait and status. Finally, some primitives will be specifically developed to support the user’s balance, on top of delivering energy for assisting locomotion. These three objectives will require first theoretical developments, and then experimental validation.



Detecting and using locomotion affordances for lower-limb prostheses by active vision
Researcher: Ali Hussein Al-Dabbagh
Supervisor(s): Renaud Ronsse

Healthy lower-limb biomechanics reveals that active prostheses are necessary to provide amputees with human-like dynamics in various locomotion tasks like walking or stair ascending/descending. Ali’s project is about the specific challenges associated to the transition between two of these tasks, where the control parameters of the device has to be smoothly and timely adapted. Active vision is proposed to be used to augment the prosthesis with vision-based detection of possible locomotion affordances, therefore anticipating these transitions as a function of the user’s behavior.



PaDAWAn: Parkinson's Disease - Adaptive Walking Assistance
Researcher: Virginie Otlet
Supervisor(s): Renaud Ronsse



Ex vivo microfocus computed tomography and contrast-enhanced computed tomography applied to the heart and the heart valves
Researcher: Camille Pestiaux
Supervisor(s): Greet Kerckhofs

The goal of my research project is to characterize in depth the morphological properties of heart and especially heart valves. Their characterization is currently limited to a qualitative description and quantitative information is still highly lacking. The full 3D microstructure of healthy and diseased heart valves is investigated using high-resolution computed tomography (microCT) and contrast-enhanced computer tomography (CECT).



Synthesis and development of novel contrast agents for 3D multitissue imaging using contrast-enhanced computed tomography.
Researcher: Sarah Vangrunderbeeck
Supervisor(s): Greet Kerckhofs

The project aims to set the stage for a new era of virtual 3D histology using contrast-enhanced microfocus computed tomography (CE-CT) by developing and validating novel contrast-enhancing staining agents (CESAs). A multidisciplinary approach is applied, crossing the boundaries between biology, engineering, imaging and chemical synthesis. We will develop and synthesize novel CESAs that specifically stain different components of the extracellular matrix in whole tissues. One example within this project is the development of antigen-specific CESAs, which are comparable to immunohistochemistry. Hence, we propose ex-vivo high-resolution CE-CT imaging to become a non-invasive quantitative 3D anatomical tool that will allow unprecedented 3D characterization of the biological tissues.



Advanced Characterization of the 3D Morphology of the Bone-Tendon Interface and the Relationship to the Functional Properties
Researcher: Arne Maes
Supervisor(s): Greet Kerckhofs

Within my research project I aim to develop insights in the morphology and the structure-function relationships of the bone-tendon interface. To this end, contrast-enhanced microCT (CE-CT) will be applied for advanced structural characterization. A better understanding of this complex biological tissue is believed to greatly improve the probability of success of regenerative strategies aiming to treat injuries of the bone-tendon interface.