Medical engineering advances in total joint replacements and societies’ rising demand for long-lasting materials have proven it essential to manufacture materials that are more similar to the original tissue in the fields of mechanical, tribological, and biological properties. Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) is a polymer widely used in arthroplasty applications due to its biocompatibility, chemical stability, and reasonable mechanical properties; however, it still fails to entirely meet the standards of the hip joint implant. In this study, different concentrations of nanosized zirconia were added to UHMWPE and HAp matrix with an intended application in arthroplasty. Liquid-phase ultrasonication and hot pressing were employed to disperse the reinforcing phases and to form the final standard samples, respectively. Tensile, Vickers hardness, and pin-on-disk tests were carried out to evaluate mechanical and wear properties of the samples. In the meanwhile, in vitro biological properties were studied via MTT assay, alkaline phosphatase enzyme activity, and cell morphology tests. Dispersion features, microstructural structures, and cell adhesion were also assessed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Results indicate improvement in both tensile and wear properties by zirconia addition; for instance, the sample containing 10 wt% zirconia and 10 wt% HAp exhibits 45% increase in yield strength and 64% reduction in coefficient of friction. On the other hand, biological properties have also significantly improved with zirconia incorporation, at which all samples proved to be biocompatible with an increase in both osteoblasts activity and cell adhesion with increasing zirconia concentration.
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Conflict of interest
The first two authors have worked on the project at Polymeric Materials Research Group (PMRG) at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering of Sharif University of Technology. The project was supervised by Dr. Reza Bagheri and Dr. Mohammad Ali Faghihi Sani, professors at the same department. The authors certify that they have NO affiliations with or involvement in any other institute, organization or entity with any financial interest.
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