Improving the Chances of Healing through Medical Measurement Technology

Professor Andreas Fischer from the Faculty of Production Engineering at the University of Bremen is receiving funding for his latest project as part of the Volkswagen Foundation's Momentum Initiative. This will provide almost 800,000 euro over a period of four years.

The head of the Bremen Institute for Metrology, Automation and Quality Science (BIMAQ) at the University of Bremen is breaking new ground with his project "Smile – Laboratory for sensitive machining of biological materials." He will set up a laboratory at the University of Bremen, with the help of which the success rate of operations on bone fractures or even dental treatments is to be improved. "Interventions should be more reliably successful and surgeons should be unburdened by enabling technology to find the ideal solution," says Fischer, outlining the goal.

As a measurement engineer in manufacturing technology, Andreas Fischer often has to deal with materials that have well known properties. This is different with biological tissue such as bones or teeth, as their structure is inhomogeneous. The degree of hardness and density varies, both in the respective tissue and from person to person. Surgeons know little about the condition of the bones before an operation and the success of an operation in which, for example, broken bones are joined together with screws depends largely on the experience of the surgeon.

Sensitive Measurement System for Medical Professionals

Fischer wants to change that. "Measurement technology can make an important contribution here as an assistance system," he says. "Our lab will not be an operating room; we will address the various technical possibilities." These include the development of a multisensory measurement system, consisting of electrical, mechanical, acoustic, optical, and thermographic sensors, as well as an intelligent, joint evaluation of the sensor signals. The measuring system is intended to provide physicians with information on hardness, layer thicknesses, or depth of the drill canal during an operation and provide immediate information on the progress of treatment. "This should give them direct feedback," says Fischer.

But that's not all: the system is supposed to be sensitive. "It should be able to sense what is happening. That's the key," emphasizes Fischer. When removing caries, for example, the sensors should not only detect the damaged materials but also ensure that only as much as necessary is removed from the tooth. Andreas Fischer is pursuing an approach that includes machine learning methods in addition to sensor data fusion.

Bone surgery is just one application example for this new research area, which Andreas Fischer wants to establish by setting up the laboratory at the University of Bremen. He intends to go one step further: "The materials of the future are also inhomogeneous," says the scientist. This means complex composite materials, with a wide variety of hardness levels and layers. "The lab will contribute to how we can handle these materials in manufacturing."

Students Will Also Benefit

The Volkswagen Foundation's Momentum Initiative fills a funding gap. It encourages researchers in the early stages of their first tenure-track professorship to explore new research fields and fosters creative freedom. "I am very grateful that this is possible," says Fischer. The allocation process is highly competitive. It is possible to be granted follow-up funding for two years.

Students will also benefit from the lab. For example, participants in the recently established Mechanical and Process Engineering degree program will be able to get involved. "We combine foundation research with concrete applications for our society, which is very attractive for many students," says the 43-year-old, who received a two-million-euro ERC grant in 2021, one of the European Research Council's (ERC) most highly endowed awards.

"Smile - Laboratory for sensitive machining of biological materials" is the name Fischer has given his project with a twinkle in his eye. "Smile" because he hopes to be able to create a smile on the lips of future patients by improving dental care, for example. It is important to him that his research is applied and that he can expand measurement technology to include medical applications. He also wants to pass on his enthusiasm for technical solutions, and not only to his students. "It is possible to make a difference with technology and to advance our society. That's what we're showing here."


Further Information:



Prof. Dr.-Ing Andreas Fischer
Faculty of Production Engineering
Bremen Institute for Measurement, Automation and Quality Science (BIMAQ)
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-64600
Email: andreas.fischerprotect me ?!bimaqprotect me ?!.de



[Translate to English:]
Andreas Fischer, head of the Bremen Institute for Metrology, Automation and Quality Science (BIMAQ) at the University of Bremen is breaking new ground with his project "Smile – Laboratory for sensitive machining of biological materials."