• biodegradable metal;
  • Fe-X composite;
  • spark plasma sintering;
  • corrosion;
  • biocompatibility


Early in vivo animal test on pure iron coronary stent had proved that it is a promising candidate material as biodegradable metal, despite a faster degradation rate and uniform degradation mode is expected. In this work, Fe-X (X= W, CNT) composites were prepared from powders of pure iron and the additive secondary phase X using the spark plasma sintering (SPS) method, aiming to obtain a higher corrosion rate and a more uniform corrosion mode in physiological environment. The microstructures, mechanical properties, corrosion behaviors, and in vitro biocompatibility of these Fe-X composites were investigated. It was found that the additives were uniformly distributed in the iron matrix and relatively high dense Fe-X composite bulk samples were obtained after sintering by SPS. Both the yield strength and ultimate compressive strength increased when compared with that of as-cast pure iron. The corrosion mode of Fe-X composites turned out to be uniform corrosion instead of localized corrosion. Electrochemical measurements and immersion tests indicated that the addition of W and CNT could increase the corrosion rate of the iron matrix. From the results of cytotoxicity evaluation, it was found that all the Fe-X composites extracts induced no obvious cytotoxicity to L929 cells and ECV304 cells whereas significantly decreased cell viabilities of VSMC cells. The hemocompatibility tests showed that all the hemolysis percentage of Fe-X composites were less than 5%, and no sign of thrombogenicity was observed. It might be concluded that Fe composited with suitable second phase can exhibit higher strength, faster degradation rate, and uniform degradation mode than those of pure iron and are promising candidates for future development of new degradable metallic stents. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater, 2013.