Evaluation of the corrosion behaviour and biocompatibility of Ti-34Nb-25Zr alloy for biomedical applications.

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Mahundla, Mithavini R.
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Vaal University of Technology
Pure Ti, Nb, Zr, Al and V powders were used as starting materials. Ti, Ti-6Al-4V and Ti-34Nb-25Zr materials produced by SPS were compared on the basis of density, microstructure, biocompatibility, tensile strength and corrosion resistance. In this study, powder metallurgy (PM) processing route was used to fabricate the alloys. The processing route was mechanical alloying (MA) and spark plasma sintering (SPS). Commercially pure metallic powders (Ti, Nb, Zr, V and Al) of different morphological features and different formulations were prepared. Powder mixing for ternary alloys with Ti as the matrix were conducted in a turbula mixer at a speed of 49 rpm. Followed by mechanical alloying of Ti, Ti-6Al-4V and Ti-34Nb-25Zr in a high energy ball mill for 5h at 500rpm, with a ball to powder ratio of 10:1. Spark plasma sintering of Ti, Ti-6Al-4V and Ti-34Nb-25Zr biomedical alloys was conducted using a hybrid spark plasma sintering furnace at a sintering temperature, heating rate, holding time and pressure of 1200°C, 100°C/min, 10min and 50MPa, respectively. Ti-34Nb-25Zr was fabricated in two ways, fully densified and porous samples. The fully densified sample was fabricated at a sintering temperature, heating rate and holding time and pressure of 1200°C, 100°C/min, 10min and 50MPa, respectively. Whereas, porous Ti-34Nb-25Zr was fabricated using NaCl space holder at a sintering temperature, heating rate, holding time and pressure of 750°C, 50°C/min, 5min and 50MPa, respectively. This was done to compare the solid and porous alloy biocompatibility behaviour. Microstructures, elemental compositions. Phase constitution of the sintered specimens were examined using a field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM) equipped with energy dispersive x-ray spectrometer (EDS) and an x-ray diffractometer (XRD). The microstructure of Ti-34Nb-25Zr had pores and precipitates of niobium. Relative density, micro-hardness, biocompatibility and corrosion test was also conducted on the metallographically polished cross sections of sintered specimens. Ti, Ti-6Al-4V and Ti-34Nb-25Zr alloys made from the irregularly shaped Ti powders and sintered on the hybrid sintering machine yielded higher densifications reaching up to 100 % relative densities. Hardness values ranging from 300-600Hv at a load of 0.5kg. The corrosion resistance of the alloys was higher in the range of 2-4 nA/cm2 exhibiting a passive behaviour in simulated body fluids, such as Hank’s, 0.9wt.% NaCl and eagles minimum essential + 10% fetal bovine serum (E-MEM+ 10% FBS). Biocompatibility tests were conducted (cytotoxicity by WST-1 with SaOS-2 human osteosarcoma cells, protein adsorption and surface wettability). Fibronectin adsorption was less for solid Ti and Ti-34Nb-25Zr (<2ng/mm) compared to Ti-34Nb-25Zr porous and Ti-6Al-4V (4 ng/mm). Albumin adsorption was the highest on Ti substrate (3 ng/mm) than on the fully densified and porous Ti-34Nb-25Zr surfaces followed by less adsorption on Ti-6Al-4V. Surface wettability of Ti and Ti-6Al-4V showed a high contact angle of between 93-98° compared to 86° for the Ti-34Nb-25Zr solid alloy, indicating that Ti-34Nb-Zr alloys exhibited hydrophilic behaviour. The surface wettability results correlated well to less fibronectin adsorption on Ti-34Nb-25Zr solid alloy and excellent adsorption for Ti-6Al-4V. Solid and porous Ti-34Nb-25Zr showed less cell proliferation (0.06 and 0.02% cell viability) which was possibly linked to fibronectin adsorption results. Biocompatibility behaviour of Ti-34Nb-25Zr solid and porous alloys was poorer than Ti (0.20% cell viability) and Ti-6Al-4V (0.23% cell viability). There was poor protein adsorption and cell proliferation on all the alloy substrates.
M. Tech. (Department of Metallurgical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Technology), Vaal University of Technology.
Alloys, Biocompatibility, Corrosion resistance, Microstructures, Powder metallurgy, Titanium