Microstructural characteristics of calcium hydroxyapatite/poly- l-lactide based composites


Professor Dr Dragan Uskokovic Tel: + 381 11 636994; fax: + 381 11 185263; e-mail: uskok>itn.sanu.ac.yu


Besides its high osteoinductive properties, hydroxyapatite (HAp) exhibits a relatively low mechanical strength. In order to improve the mechanical properties and reliability of HAp based composites, the addition of selected polymers is highly recommended. The main objective of this work is to study the microstructural characteristics of HAp/poly- l-lactide (PLLA) composites obtained by cold or hot processing. The composites were prepared from a mixture of a chloroform solution of poly- l-lactide with granulated HAp. After elimination of chloroform by vacuum evaporation, dense compacts were obtained by cold or hot pressing. The pressing pressure ranged from 98.10 to 294.3 MPa for both cold and hot pressing. The hot pressing was performed in the temperature region 293–457 K for a time period of 15–60 min. Depending on the PLLA amount and the pressing procedure it is possible to obtain highly porous or nearly fully dense composites. The scanning electron microscopy examination of fracture as well as of free surfaces revealed that the final porosity and wetting are affected to a great extent by the synthesis conditions and amount of polymer added. An increase in temperature to 457 K for a longer period of time results in fully dense compacts. The formation of a nearly continuous polymer network that leads to the hardening of HAp has also been observed. However, it should be pointed out that some layers of HAp may be free of polymer film since PLLA penetrates more deeply into the porous HAp.