New Publication: Recyclable, Biobased Photoresins for 3D Printing Through Dynamic Imine Exchange

This work was led by the Smaldone Group from UT Dallas. Lauren and Chandani completed some of the thermomechanical characterizations.


Transimination reactions are highly effective dynamic covalent reactions to enable reprocessability in thermosets, as they can undergo exchange without the need for catalysts, by exposing the materials to external stimuli such as heat. In this work, a series of five biobased vanillin-derived resin formulations consisting of vanillin acrylate with vanillin methacrylate-functionalized Jeffamines were synthesized and 3D-printed using digital light projection (DLP). The resulting thermosets displayed a range of mechanical properties (Young’s modulus 2.05–332 MPa), which allow for an array of applications. The materials we obtained have self-healing abilities, which were characterized by scratch healing tests. Additionally, dynamic transimination reactions enable these thermosets to be reprocessed when thermally treated above their glass transition temperatures under high pressures using a hot press. Due to the simple synthetic procedures and the readily available commercial Jeffamines, these materials will aid in promoting a shift to materials with predominantly biobased content and help drift away from polymers made from non-renewable resources.

Do you want to read more? The full publication can be found here:

New publication: Flexible and Stretchable Bioelectronics

The first publication of 2022 is now published and online available! Congratulations to Chandani, Eric, and Lauren for their great review paper on stretchable and flexible bioelectronics!


Medical science technology has improved tremendously over the decades with the invention of robotic surgery, gene editing, immune therapy, etc. However, scientists are now recognizing the significance of ‘biological circuits’ i.e., bodily innate electrical systems for the healthy functioning of the body or for any disease conditions. Therefore, the current trend in the medical field is to understand the role of these biological circuits and exploit their advantages for therapeutic purposes. Bioelectronics, devised with these aims, work by resetting, stimulating, or blocking the electrical pathways. Bioelectronics are also used to monitor the biological cues to assess the homeostasis of the body. In a way, they bridge the gap between drug-based interventions and medical devices. With this in mind, scientists are now working towards developing flexible and stretchable miniaturized bioelectronics that can easily conform to the tissue topology, are non-toxic, elicit no immune reaction, and address the issues that drugs are unable to solve. Since the bioelectronic devices that come in contact with the body or body organs need to establish an unobstructed interface with the respective site, it is crucial that those bioelectronics are not only flexible but also stretchable for constant monitoring of the biological signals. Understanding the challenges of fabricating soft stretchable devices, we review several flexible and stretchable materials used as substrate, stretchable electrical conduits and encapsulation, design modifications for stretchability, fabrication techniques, methods of signal transmission and monitoring, and the power sources for these stretchable bioelectronics. Ultimately, these bioelectronic devices can be used for wide range of applications from skin bioelectronics and biosensing devices, to neural implants for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.

Do you want to read more? The full publication can be found here.

Congratulations Grads!

We want to congratulate all our recent graduates from UNT Biomedical Engineering!

Engineering | UNT Commencement Fall 2021
Doctoral and Master’s I | UNT Commencement Fall 2021

Graduates from our lab are:

  • Sukhpreet Singh (MS in BMEN)
  • Eric Hedrick (MS in BMEN)
  • Joy-Anne Najwa Oliver (MS in BMEN)

And our Lab Manager:

  • Edward Gates (MS in BMEN)

Congratulation to all of you!

New publication: Incorporation of Novel Elements in Bioactive Glass Compositions to Enhance Implant Performance

The third publication this year from our lab is now online available. Joy-anne and Olanrewaju have worked together on this book chapter for ‘Bioactive Glass – Recent Advances, New Perspectives and Applications’ from IntechOpen. A hard copy of this book will be available later this year.


Increasing popularities of bioactive-glasses and their potential medical applications have led to countless studies into improving their material characteristics and overall performance. Some scientists hope to create new bioactive-glass compositions, while others seek to merely modify existing ones such as the novel 45S5 bioactive-glass composition; created by Dr. Larry Hench. These modifications aim to address potential complications that may arise at a site following implantation such as bacterial infections. In other cases, the incorporation of a selected element or compound may aim to improve the implant functioning by increasing cell proliferation. Although possibilities are plentiful, researchers avoid compromising the typical bioactive glass characteristics when doping with elements such as silver, or gold to achieve additional properties. This chapter elaborates on the incorporation of popular elements by doping bioactive-glass compositions to introduce desired properties based on the implant application.

Do you want to read more? The full publication can be found here.

Congrats Sukhpreet

Congratulations to Sukhpreet Singh for successfully defending his Maters’ Thesis on “IN VITRO ELECTROCHEMICAL EVALUATION OF BIOELECTRONIC PROBES”. Sukhpreet was the first M.S. student that did his thesis with our lab and we couldn’t be prouder of his accomplishments.

We are wishing you all the best in your future endeavors!

Independent Study & Mentorship Program

I am honored that I could be part of the Frisco ISD Independent Study and Mentorship (ISM) program as a mentor.

FISD ISM is a Professional program meant for academically advanced students who go through a rigorous and competitive selection process before being accepted. Within this program students explore their desired field and research about a specific topic and display their knowledge through an original work and product.

Manogna’s potfolio

But let me start from the beginning. Last year in December, I was approached by Manogna Jonnalagadda, an 11th-grade student from Centennial High School in Frisco. She was asking if I was available for an interview, that she wanted to conduct as part of her ISM program to learn more about biomedical engineering. And sure enough, I agreed. During this interview, Manogna told me more about the ISM program and asked me to become her mentor, which I happily did.

Manogna was interested in spinal cord injury and ways to treat that. During her first part of the project (original work), she was doing research on spinal cord injuries and treatments, including spinal cord stimulation, and was creating an interactive website as a helpful guide. For the second part (final product), she was researching nerve conduit devices for nerve repair and was writing a review article to summarize her findings.

During the mentored phase, we had weekly meetings to plan her final product, discuss her findings, review her milestones, and talk about science and engineering. It was a blast for me to see how Manogna managed to accomplish her goals and how her final product came to life, and all this in the midst of a pandemic.

In March, Manogna came to UNT to see our labs and to make her first own polymer. That was our first and only in-person mentor meeting we had, and it was a lot of fun.

At the end of April was the “Final Presentation Night” at Centennial High School and Manogna was presenting her final product. She did an awesome job presenting her work and seemed like she never did anything else in her life. So professional and confident! I was beyond proud to see what she had accomplished and it was a great honor for me to be part of her journey. I would always do it again.

To learn more about this fantastic young woman and her research, please visit her online portfolio.

And here is a link to her final presentation.


The Univerity of North Texas will host an TEDxEvent:

I am beyond excited to share that I will present a part of our lab’s research at TEDxUNT! I will be speaking about the shape memory polymers that we are working on within our lab. Stay tuned for more details to come.

Topic of the TEDxUNT: Create the Change

When? Friday, Oct. 1, 2021
1-4 p.m

Where? UNT University Union, Denton, TX

Event registration will open in late August.

For more info, please visit the TEDxUNT website or the TEDx website.

UNT Seed Funding

We are happy to announce that the Ecker Lab has received seed funding from UNT for a collaborative research project together with Dr. Diana Berman (MTSE), Dr. Tom Cundari (CHEM), and Dr. Jeff Kelber (CHEM).

The project is entitled: “Metal Oxynitrides as Biocompatible Coatings for Medical Device Applications

The College of Engineering (CENG), College of Science (COS), and the and VPRI office are co-sponsoring targeted seed funding to establish teams of CENG-COS faculty to advance the collection of preliminary data in support of collaborative external research proposal submissions.

I am looking forward to a fruitful collaboration!

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