Scope of Research

The Smart Biomaterials Research Laboratory studies how biomaterials interact with the body, and it develops smart materials that enhance the treatment and diagnosis of diseases and injuries. Working at the intersection of advanced materials, microbiology, medicine and sensors, the lab is developing smart materials that provide

  • antibacterial and antifungal effects;
  • biodegradable, dose-controlled drug delivery via oral appliances;
  • tissue regeneration and remineralization; and 
  • oral biosensors.

Research efforts on smart materials are also focused on shifting the oral microbiome toward balanced states that prevent infection and disease. Technology being developed at the lab include oral biosensors and smart brackets used in orthodontics. Researchers have expertise in

  • 3D printing,
  • confocal microscopy,
  • fabrication of advanced materials,
  • microbiology, 
  • scaffolding,
  • sensing and electronics, and
  • testing and evaluation.

The 1,000-square-foot Smart Biomaterials Research Laboratory is fully equipped for the fabrication, testing and evaluation of smart biomaterials in realistic body conditions. The facility is outfitted with several pieces of major equipment that include 3D printers, oscilloscopes, an incubator, a microindenter and a bioreactor hooked to a mastication machine. There is also equipment designed to test various types of materials, such as biological tissues, ceramics, implants, polymers and resins.

Researchers have access to resources at the College of Engineering, the Lewis Katz School of Medicine and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. The lab is engaged in active collaboration with the Oral Microbiome Research Laboratory to test novel dental smart biomaterials exposed to multispecies biofilm.


Recent Funding

Strategic Funds
Office of the Provost at Temple University
Role: PI (Orrego)
Strategic funds were obtained to build on current investments and speed up the development of the Smart Biomaterials Research Program. Funds are allotted to the acquisition of new infrastructure for the laboratory and support salary for a research technician. The equipment will provide the university with unique capabilities to design and evaluate smart biomaterials under simulated oral environments.
Amount: $302,600

Science Center – QED Program
Role: PI (Orrego)
Development of multifunctional hydrogel with combined anti-infective and hard tissue regeneration properties: These funds were awarded to support the development of a light-curable hydrogel that exhibit combined antibacterial and tissue regeneration effects for periodontal disease treatment. In this proposal, we are evaluating the performance of the hydrogel in-vivo using mice ligature models.

Selected Publications

Du, Y., Montoya, C., Orrego, S., Wei, X., Ling, J., Lelkes, P. I., & Yang, M. (2019). Topographic cues of a novel bilayered scaffold modulate dental pulp stem cells differentiation by regulating YAP signalling through cytoskeleton adjustments. Cell Proliferation, e12676. doi:10.1111/cpr.12676

Dagro, A., Rajbhandari, L., Orrego, S., Kang, S. H., Venkatesan, A., & Ramesh, K. T. (2019). Quantifying the Local Mechanical Properties of Cells in a Fibrous Three-Dimensional Microenvironment. Biophysical Journal.117, 817-828. doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2019.07.042

​Orrego, S., Xu, H.H., Arola, D.D. (2017). Degradation in the fatigue crack growth resistance of human dentin by lactic acid. Materials Science and Engineering-C, 73, 716-725. doi:10.1016/j.msec.2016.12.065

Melo, M.A., Orrego, S., Weir, M.D., Xu, H.H., Arola, D.D. (2016). Designing multiagent dental materials for enhanced resistance to biofilm damage at the bonded interface. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 8(18), 11779–11787. doi:10.1021/acsami.6b01923

Orrego, S., Melo, M.A., Lee, S.H., Xu, H.H., Arola, D.D. (2016). Fatigue of human dentin by cyclic loading and during oral biofilm challenge. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B: Applied Biomaterials, 105, 1978–1985. doi:10.1002/jbm.b.33729

Orrego, S., Romberg, E., Arola, D.D (2015). Synergistic degradation of dentin by cyclic stress and buffer agitation. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, 44, 121–132. doi:10.1016/j.jmbbm.2015.01.006

Montoya, C., Du, Y., Gianforcaro, AL., Orrego, S.. Yang, M., Lelkes, PI. (2021). On the road to smart biomaterials for bone research: definitions, concepts, advances, and outlook. Bone Research, 9 (1), 1-16. doi:10.1038/s41413-020-00131-z

Orrego, S., Chen, Z., P., Krekora, U., Hou, D., Jeon, SY., Pittman, M., Montoya, C., Chen, Y., Kang, SH. (2020). Bioinspired materials with self-adaptable mechanical properties. Advanced Materials, 32 (21), 1906970. doi:10.1002/adma.201906970