Hydroxyapatite powders characterized by ionic substitutions both in anionic and cationic sites were successfully prepared by synthesis in aqueous medium. The process parameters were set up to allow the simultaneous substitution of the foreign ions, namely carbonate, magnesium and silicon in the crystallographic site of calcium and phosphorus, keeping in count the competition which arises between atoms destined to occupy the same crystallographic site. The chemico-physical properties of the powders were investigated through several analytical techniques, i.e. X-ray diffraction, infrared spectroscopy, atomic emission spectroscopy and thermo-gravimetric analysis. The results show that the utilization of sodium hydrogen-carbonate as a reactant allows the entering of carbonate into the HA structure, mainly in phosphate position, while sodium is eliminated during the process of the powder washing. The entering of silicon in the HA structure progressively reduces its crystallinity, as also carbonate ions do. Silicate and carbonate ions can enter simultaneously into the HA structure, in biological-like amounts, although they compete for the occupation of the phosphate site; the powder crystallinity is strongly reduced as the content of the two substituting ions increases, so that a limit molar concentration exists where the apatite structure collapses and an amorphous phase forms with the simultaneous formation of crystalline calcium carbonate. Solubility tests, carried out at physiological conditions, reveal an increased calcium release in the HA powders containing silicon compared to the silicon-free HA; the solubility behaviour of the multi-substituted HA powders at physiological conditions makes these materials promising as bioactive bone scaffold, as they are able to continuously supply ions which are essential for the process of bone reconstruction.
- Biomimetic materials
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