SAXS, bones and science

Henrik Birkedal
Henrik Birkedal

I’m attending a seminar co-arranged by the ESS and Lund University where Henrik Birkedal is giving a talk on Biological and Bioinspired Materials – or, “From Biology to Materials”. The presentation deals specifically with the study of bone materials in the body.

What Henrik as a researcher wants to investigate is the link between structure and dynamics, how structure works in action. Complex materials, like bone structure in the human body, is a hierarchical structure. By studying how bone development takes place, how the bone fibres grows, we can find solutions to medical problems. For example osteoporosis. About 40% of all women above 50 gets osteoporosis, and all women above 80 suffer from osteoporosis. Men are also developing osteoporosis.

Henrik and his team of researchers are using an experimental method called SAXS for studying bone material. SAXS gives high precision with very small x-ray beams making it possible to map very small structures in the bone tissue sample (down to ~62 um beam size).

The resolution of the intrument is important for the amount of detailed data being generated. But still it’s good to combine synchrotron x-ray beams (which gives higher resolution) and regular nano sourcing techniques since they produce different precicion at different length scales of what needs to be studied in the material – and it provides the researcher with more data to do a more precise analysis.