Biomechanics and Implants


Flyer for Biomechanics & Implants (PDF 289KB)  

drilling into bone


The Biomechanics & Implants program includes basic and applied research in the broad field of joints, soft tissues, bones and implants.

Our research incorporates simple and complex three-dimensional testing of:

  • biological materials
  • bones
  • joints
  • artificial joints
  • medical devices
  • surgical devices;
  • and implants

We study the behaviour of soft tissues, bones and ligaments at the nano, microscopic and macro levels, with some projects using computational and mathematical modelling and experimental validation of these models.

Our state-of-the-art hexapod robot technology allows us to simulate measured three-dimensional joint motions that lead to a variety of applications. These include:

  • mapping the structure of normal tissue
  • comparing healthy with diseased tissue
  • understanding how joints function.

YouTube  View Youtube video of the hexapod
 View Flinders Uncut - quick overview of Hexapod Robot


We can also measure the relative motion between implants and bone at the micrometre resolution level - to less than one-tenth the width of a strand of human hair with a width of 100 microns.

Our researchers are experts in experimental and computational (finite element analysis) mechanical, biomechanical and biomedical engineering. We:

  • have access to comprehensive, cutting-edge laboratory facilities and resources
  • regularly undertake contract based research and collaborative agreements
  • are happy to discuss your research needs.

Download the Hexapod Robot flyer (PDF 422KB)  for more information about our hexapod robot technology and for specifications. 

For more information about our facilities refer to the Biomechanical Materials Testing Laboratory web page.


Current Research

Current research projects in the Biomechanics & Implants program include:

  • Nanomechanical tensile behaviour of collagen type I in spinal disc tissue
  • Computer modelling and experimental validation of osteoporotic/fragile bone mechanical properties at the microscale and design of an improved screw for osteoporotic fracture fixation
  • Nanomechanical properties of disc lamellae in compression
  • Investigations into improved methods for anterior cruciate ligament (knee) reconstruction and repair
  • Improved methods for gripping of soft tissue at the microscale
  • Computer modelling of resurfacing hip replacements to understand how they fail
  • Development of a six degree of freedom load control system for a hexapod robot
  • Development and validation of a micromechanical model of disc lamellae.



The Biomechanics & Implants program has growing collaborations, some of which are:

  • A/Profs John Field and Simon Pearce at the Comparative Orthopaedic Research (CORe) Surgical Facility, School of Medicine, Flinders University
  • Prof Nicola Fazzalari
  • Prof Joe Shapter (nanotechnology), School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Flinders University
  • A/Prof Sunil Kumar at the Ian Wark Research Institute (University of South Australia)
  • A/Prof Bogdan Soloman (Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon), Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma, Royal Adelaide Hospital
  • A/Prof Greg Bain (Orthopaedic Shoulder and Upper Limb Surgeon), Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma, Royal Adelaide Hospital
  • Dr Dominic Thewlis (Biomechanist - Human Movement), School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia
  • Prof Dinesh Selva (Ophthalmologist), South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology, The University of Adelaide


Program Leader 

Please contact Dr. John Costi for more information.

Phone: 08 8201 3323



Post-Graduate Students

We actively supervise and support many student projects at both Honours and Post-graduate levels and invite students who are interested in pursuing research in this program to contact us for further information.

Examples of current student projects include:

  • Willy Theodore - PhD Candidate (Employee of Optimized Ortho Pty Ltd)
    Computational based assessment of total knee replacement.
  • Ryan Quarrington - PhD Candidate (enrolled: The University of Adelaide, co-supervised by Dr J Costi)
    Improving neck injury criteria and tolerance characteristics through a better understanding of traumatic facet dislocation in the cervical spine.
  • Christopher Bishop - PhD Candidate (enrolled: UniSA, co-supervised by Dr J Costi)
    The Plantar Fascia exposed: an investigation of material properties and treatment effectiveness.
  • Boyin Ding - PhD Candidate (enrolled: The University of Adelaide, co-supervised by Dr J Costi)
    A study of a stewart platform-based manipulator for applications in biomechanical testing.
  • Jianghui (Brent) Dong - PhD Candidate
    Development of a comprehensive six degree of freedom multiphasic, macroscopic finite element model of the human intervertebral disc.
  • Rosidah Lazid - PhD Candidate
    Validation of an FE model for determining screw pull-out strength at varying levels of tightening torque in osteoporotic trabecular bone.
  • Brianna Martin - PhD Candidate
    Mathematical modelling of remodelling processes in trabecular bone
  • Diana Pham - PhD Candidate
    Multi-scale mechanical testing of collagen type I in the human intervertebral disc
  • Melissa Ryan - PhD Candidate
    Finite element modeling of the bone-screw interface

International Students

  • Ms Dhara Amin (2013-2014) - BME (Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering), University of Delaware, USA
    Whitaker International Fellow: Identifying repetitive motions that place lumbar discs at greatest risk of injury.
  • Mr Adrien Delmas (2013) - M.Sc. Mechanics of Materials, Ecole Centrale de Nantes, France.
    Development of a constitutive model to describe the anisotropic, nonlinear, fibre-reinforced, viscoelastic behaviour of the annulus fibrosus in the human intervertebral disc.
  • Ms Dana Sommerfeld (2013) - M.Sc. Medical Engineering, Hamburg University of Technology, Germany.
    Correlations between the micro-and macro-scopic viscoelastic properties of the human intervertebral disc.
  • Ms Karsta Heinze (2012) - M.Sc. Physics of Life and Health, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
    Does combined compression, flexion and axial rotation place the intervertebral disc at risk of posterolateral herniation? Measurement of 3D lumbar intervertebral disc internal strains during repetitive loading.
  • Mr Jens Rose (2010) - M.Sc. Biomedical Engineering, University of Applied Sciences in Luebeck and the Universit of Luebeck, Germany.
    Can viscoelastic models predict the six degree of freedom, frequency-dependent, dynamic response of lumbar intervertebral discs?
  • Mr Johannes Fleer (2009) - Mechanical Engineering, University of Twente, The Netherlands.
    Design and development of a micromechanical testing system for determining the material properties of biological tissues.

Summer scholarships

  • Mr Isaac Lawless (2012-13 and 2011-12) - MDRI funded summer scholarship.

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