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Novel Ti Alloy- Hydroxyapatite Nanocomposites via Ultrasonic Powder Consolidation

Final Report Summary - TIBIOCOMP (Novel Ti Alloy- Hydroxyapatite Nanocomposites via Ultrasonic Powder Consolidation)

Objectives:

New implant-materials are increasingly being sought to augment the developments in orthopedics and dentistry. Implants, made of composite materials that rely on osteo-conduction for fixation, are increasingly replacing traditional cemented prosthesis. It is well known that metals and alloys exhibit good mechanical properties. However, their use is confronted with biocompatibility issues. Hydroxyapatite (HA, Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2), a compound that shows a very similar crystal structure as that of the bone mineral, exhibits the highest degree of biocompatibility, but poor mechanical properties make them unsuitable for load-bearing applications. This project incorporates two vital technologies of the new millennium: biotechnology and nanotechnology to synthesise novel titanium based nano-composites.

A new powder processing technique, ultrasonic powder consolidation (USC), is proposed, which is a clean and energy efficient process without the inherent disadvantages of traditional powder metallurgy techniques. In this work, titanium / titanium alloy powders will be mixed with nano-HA powders and consolidated using ultrasonic waves into cylindrical composite pallets. The resulting compacts will be sintered using microwaves at a frequency of 2.45 GHz. The as-synthesised materials will be characterised in terms of phase content, microstructure, mechanical reliability, thermal stability and biocompatibility.

Work performed and main results:

Ultrasonic powder consolidation has been used for the first time to prepare nanocomposites based on Ti and hyrdoxyapatite; microwave-induced hyperthermia simulations have been carried out to help towards studying the influence of microwaves on the sintering of powder metallurgy compacts; morphology, microstructure and mechanical properties of consolidated thermites have been evaluated; and work has been started on how to embark on in-vitro studies of these produced nanocomposites.

Expected final results and their potential impact and use:

Composite materials that rely on osteo-conduction for fixation are increasingly been used for implants, are of great scientific interest and have commercial potential. It is expected that the novel implants developed from these materials will offer a better quality of life to patients. The innovative attributes are expected to offer competitive advantages in the growing market for biomaterials and biotechnology. The expected results are well suited for technology licensing, innovation and commercialisation enabling technology transfer to SMEs with low capital investment in infrastructure, and will benefit the European society and the scientific community in general.