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Periodic Report Summary 1 - REFINED STEP (An international network on new strategies for processing calcium phosphates)

The next generation calcium phosphates demand improved processing routes for capturing the full potential of this elite class of materials. Calcium phosphates are unique with their ability to accept replacement ions in the structure, be processed through intermediate phases, and modify their crystal structure.

The Refined Step project is about creating new calcium phosphates and investigating new processing routes that lead to cheaper production routes or materials with higher functionality. The project is aimed at supporting international cooperation between European universities and universities abroad. Therefore, the project has assembled internationally competitive teams from a range of fields to work on the multidisciplinary field of biomaterials involving the design of high-temperature processes, materials processing, characterization and testing. The network includes eight partners with the hub in Europe – Latvia, United Kingdom, France, Austria, the next closest partners in Eastern Europe – Russia, Belarus – and the long distance partners in Australia and Canada. The partnership provides good synergy across the range of disciplines with a lasting effect.

The main tasks defined by the teams are to investigate a high-temperature processing in a radio frequency inductively coupled plasma and to process calcium phosphates through metastable states to capture structural modifications for enhancing properties.

Refined Step has paved the way to a series of new pathways for producing calcium phosphates and also to new calcium phosphates to offer greater functionality. It has been found that an important aspect has been the use of transient phases - an amorphous calcium phosphate or oxyapatite. These metastable phases have been produced, their stability determined, and other crystalline calcium phosphates produced either with a higher purity or improved characteristics. The goal of producing a more energy efficient processing route has been achieved however further work will be devoted to confirming the findings, characterizing the phases in more depth and learning more about the transfer to commercial processes for using transient phases in other production routes suitable for manufacturing.


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