Schwarz meets Schwann: Design and fabrication of biomorphic and durataxic tissue engineering scaffolds

Srinivasan Rajagopalan, Richard A. Robb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Tissue engineering is a discipline at the leading edge of the field of computer assisted intervention. This multidisciplinary engineering science attempts to meet the reparative and regenerative needs of tissues and organs based on the notion of design and fabrication of scaffolds- porous, three-dimensional "trellis-like" biomimetic structures that, on implantation, provide a viable environment to recuperate and regenerate damaged cells. Existing scaffold fabrication strategies produce sub-optimal porous labyrinths with contra-naturam straight edges. The biomorphic geometry that mimics the secundam-naturam substrate would be one that is continuous through all space, partitioned into two not-necessarily-equal sub-spaces by a non-intersecting, two-sided surface. Minimal surface geometry is not only ideal to describe such a space but is also the preferentially assumed geometry in natural and pathological or manipulated cells. We present results on the premier attempt in computer-controlled fabrication, modulation, and mechanical characterization of tissue engineering scaffolds based on triply periodic minimal surfaces (TPMS). We also present novel strategies to realize coterminous seeding-feeding networks thereby guaranteeing blood/nutrient supply to the proliferating cells at close proximity. This initiative of linking Schwann's 1838 cell theory with Schwarz's 1865 discovery of TPMS is a significant step to fabricate the previously elusive optimal biomorphic tissue analogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-712
Number of pages20
JournalMedical Image Analysis
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Biomorphic
  • Durataxic
  • Minimal surfaces
  • Scaffolds
  • Solid freeform fabrication
  • Tissue engineering
  • Triply periodic minimal surfaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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