Interaction of electromagnetic fields with biological tissue

In our working group, we focus on modelling and simulating electromagnetic fields that are specifically exploited for the therapy of various diseases. In view of the increasing proportion of elderly people in the total population, the need for implants in various areas of application is growing more and more. Here, innovative therapeutic approaches for the treatment of bone and cartilage damage are becoming increasingly important: Electrostimulating implants can, for example, accelerate bone healing or even make it possible in the first place. Specifically, we are working on optimising stimulation methods and determining suitable stimulation parameters and electrode designs.

In addition, we are working on the already established method of deep brain stimulation, which is used for the treatment of movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease or dystonia. With the help of numerical simulation and optimisation of the electrode parameters, the application of deep brain stimulation can be made even more effective in the future and risks for the patient can be further reduced.

Another focus is the modelling of the underlying processes in the interaction of electromagnetic fields with biological tissue, which take place on different scales. The scales of these multi-scale models range from modelling neuronal action potentials or individual bone cells to entire macroscopic structures, such as the complete brain or the whole bone. In the focus area of deep brain stimulation, network models and the simulation of the activation of neurons in different nerve tracts are analysed. With the help of these models, processes such as signal transmission in the brain can be better understood. In the focus area of bone and cartilage stimulation, the goal is to better understand the remodelling of bone and cartilage, as this has not yet been fully elucidated in the past. Modelling biological tissue as realistically as possible partly requires the consideration of multiphysical models with bioelectrical, biomechanical, biochemical and thermal effects.

In our research, we use numerical simulation methods and predominantly employ the finite element method. We mainly use open source software, some of which is even "house-made", such as the "OSS-DBS" framework. However, we also use commercial software. The results are validated with the help of experimental measurements. Another focus of the research group is the quantification of uncertainties resulting from the strong variation of dielectric tissue properties.

Our focus is strongly interdisciplinary and therefore we work closely with partners from medicine, biology, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, biology, physics and medicine. In particular, our research is tightly integrated into the Collaborative Research Centre 1270 "ELAINE" and other DFG projects.