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Fabrication and characterization of biocompatible nacre-like structures from α-zirconium hydrogen phosphate hydrate and chitosan

Waraich, Sajjad M., Hering, Britta, Burghard, Zaklina, Bill, Joachim, Behrens, Peter, Menzel, Henning
Journal of colloid and interface science 2012 v.367 no.1 pp. 74-82
biocompatible materials, chitosan, composite materials, dipping, hardness, mechanical properties, pH, phosphates, polymers
Composite materials with an ordered layered structure resembling that of nacre were fabricated by layer-by-layer assembly making use of presynthesized α-zirconium hydrogenphosphate hydrate (ZrP) platelets and chitosan. These two biocompatible materials were chosen in view of possible applications in the biomedical field, e.g., as bone or joint replacement implants. The effect of different concentrations of the inorganic ZrP platelets and the organic components (chitosan) on the composite assembly and structure was investigated. A high concentration of chitosan (0.1wt.%) resulted in a misalignment of the inorganic platelets, while at very low concentrations (0.001wt.%), the substrate was not fully covered by the polymer, again leading to misalignment. Also, the concentration of the α-ZrP platelets affected the composite assembly and structure. The number of dipping cycles was varied between 70 and 220, yielding a maximum thickness of approximately 6μm. The pH value of the chitosan solution was also varied to investigate its influence on the composite assembly. The mechanical properties of the composites were tested with a nanoindenter. For samples prepared with the same number of dipping cycles, higher values of Young’s modulus and hardness were obtained with improved alignment of the platelets in the samples. For samples prepared with 220 dipping cycles, a Young’s modulus of 2.6GPa and a hardness of 70MPa were observed. Important general relationships are recognized between the preparation parameters, the degree of order within the nacre-like films and the resulting mechanical properties.