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Synthesis and characterization of hydroxyapatite-alumina-zirconia biocomposites
Three component hydroxyapatite-alumina-zirconia composite presents a promising candidate material for bone replacement implants. Two methods were employed to synthesize the composite that is expected to have high bioactivity, high strength and high chemical stability in physiologic environment. Wet mixing and heterogeneous precipitation methods were used for the synthesis. Commercial hydroxyapatite, alum ina and yttria stabilized zirconia were mixed in varying proportions and obtained powders were sintered upto 1300 °C subsequent to dry pressing at 160MPa. An optimum composition of 10-20-70 volume percent zirconia, alumina and hydroxyapatite respectively was found to present the most suitable proportion in terms of sinterability and phase purity. -tricalcium phosphate formation at temperatures higher than 1150 °C was found to be the only source of impurity phase in the material.Heterogeneous precipitation method was applied to synthesize a composite material with a functionally graded structure. The three components were aimed to be coated on one another, zirconia (TZ-3Y) being the core, alumina being the intermediate layer and hydroxyapatite being the outer shell. The bulk composite was expected to have both enhanced mechanical properties and enhanced phase purity due to separation of two reactive phases, hydroxyapatite and zirconia by the alumina layer. The coating was done in two steps using urea as the precipitant, aluminum sulfate as the Al3+ source, calcium nitrate as the Ca2+ source and ammonium phosphate as the P source.Precipitation of aluminum hydroxides on TZ-3Y particulates and precipitation of calcium hydroxides as a nucleation point for hydroxyapatite on cores were facilitated through decomposition of urea above 85 °C in aqueous media. Particle size, distribution and morphology were monitored for alumina coated zirconia samples prepared with varying Al2(SO4)/Zirconia and urea/Al2(SO4) molar ratios. The sample prepared with stoichiometric Al2(SO4)/Zirconia ratio and urea/Al2(SO4) ratio 10 exhibited the most suitable composition and morphology for hydroxyapatite coating. Samples synthesized in the first step were used as cores for hydroxyapatite coating.