Office for Technology Commercialization

Silica-collagen Nanocomposite for Cornea Replacement

Technology #20160022

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Cornea ReplacementCollagen Fibrils
Allison Hubel, PhD
Professor, Mechanical Engineering, College of Science and Engineering
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Andreas Stein, PhD
Professor, Chemistry, College of Science and Engineering
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Managed By
Kevin Anderson
Technology Licensing Officer 612-624-8293
Patent Protection

US Patent Pending

Poly-L-lysine Sol Gel Process Enables Uniform Silica Layer

Poly-L-lysine can enhance silica coverage on collagen fibrils. The new method uses electrostatic forces to form a uniform silica layer around collagen fibrils. This layer acts as a barrier against enzymatic degradation and provides a more confluent covering with enhanced mechanical properties. This silica-sol gel process allows structural modification of the proposed material from the molecular level up, allowing mechanical, optical and degradation properties to be optimized for corneal replacement. Coating collagen fibrils with silica to obtain a conformal layer is an enabling technology in regenerative medicine, and this technique can be used to modulate degradation. Silica/collagen composites can be used for corneal replacements as well as replacements for hard tissues like bone and teeth.

Better Cornea Replacement

In earlier versions of artificial corneas, silica could not be deposited onto collagen fibrils in a conformal layer, resulting in high degrees of light scattering as well as rapid degradation when exposed to the enzyme collagenase. This method forms a conformal silica layer around collagen fibrils that not only protects against enzymatic degradation but can be controlled to feature sizes significantly smaller than the wavelengths of visible light, with only an insignificant amount of light scattering.


  • Optimized mechanical, optical, and degradation properties for corneal replacement
  • Modulates degradation
  • Reduced enzymatic degradation
  • Minimal light scattering
  • Silica-sol gel process using electrostatic forces
  • Structure can be modified from molecular level up


  • Corneal blindness
  • Corneal replacement
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Hard tissue replacements (bone, teeth, etc.).

Phase of Development - In vitro testing