One of the most ambitious goals for bone implants is to improve bioactivity, incapability, and mechanical properties; to reduce the need for further surgery; and increase efficiency. Hydroxyapatite (HA), the main inorganic component of bones and teeth, has high biocompatibility but is weak and brittle material. Cortical bone is composed of 70% calcium phosphate (CaP) and 30% collagen and forms a complex hierarchical structure with anisotropic and lamellar microstructure (osteons) which makes bone a light, strong, tough, and durable material that can support large loads. However, imitation of concentric lamellar structure of osteons is difficult to achieve in fabrication. Nacre from mollusk shells with layered structures has now become the archetype of the natural "model" for bio-inspired materials. Incorporating a nacre-like layered structure into bone implants can enhance their mechanical strength, toughness, and durability, reducing the risk of implant catastrophic failure or fracture. The layered structure of nacre-like HA/polymer composites possess high strength, toughness, and tunable stiffness which matches that of bone. The nacre-like HA/polymer composites should also possess excellent biocompatibility and bioactivity which facilitate the bonding of the implant with the surrounding bone, leading to improved implant stability and long-term success. To achieve this, a bi-directional freeze-casting technique was used to produce elongated lamellar HA were further densified and infiltrated with polymer to produce nacre-like HA/polymer composites with high strength and fracture toughness. Mechanical characterization shows that increasing the ceramic fractions in the composite increases the density of the mineral bridges, resulting in higher flexural and compressive strength. The nacre-like HA/(methyl methacrylate (MMA) + 5 wt.% acrylic acid (AA)) composites with a ceramic fraction of 80 vol.% showed a flexural strength of 158 & PLUSMN; 7.02 MPa and a Young's modulus of 24 & PLUSMN; 4.34 GPa, compared with 130 & PLUSMN; 5.82 MPa and 19.75 & PLUSMN; 2.38 GPa, in the composite of HA/PMMA, due to the higher strength of the polymer and the interface of the composite. The fracture toughness in the composition of 5 wt.% PAA to PMMA improves from 3.023 & PLUSMN; 0.98 MPa & BULL;m(1/2) to 5.27 & PLUSMN; 1.033 MPa & BULL;m(1/2) by increasing the ceramic fraction from 70 vol.% to 80 vol.%, respectively.
Many natural materials demonstrate ideal design inspirations for the development of lightweight composite materials with excellent damage tolerance. One notable example is the layered architecture of nacre, which possesses toughness an order of magnitude higher than its constituent parts. Man-made nacre-like ceramic/polymer composites obtained through direct infiltration of polymer in ceramic scaffolds have been shown to produce improved mechanical properties over other composite architectures. Replacing the polymer phase with metal could provide higher damage tolerance but the infiltration of metal into complex ceramic scaffolds is difficult due to the surface tension of molten metal. To address this, bioinspired nacre-like micro-layered (µL) alumina scaffolds with different ceramic fractions from 18 to 85% were infiltrated with aluminium alloy 5083 via pressureless and squeeze casting infiltrations techniques. The scaffolds were created using a bi-directional freeze-casting and one-step densification method. As a result, the µL alumina/aluminium composites displayed significant extrinsic toughening mechanisms with both high strength and toughness. The mechanical performance was highly dependent on the interface, microstructure, and composition. The nacre-like composites with 18% alumina and AlN interface displayed a maximum resistance‐curve toughness up to around 70 MPa.m½ (35 MPa.m½ at the ASTM limit) and a flexural strength around 600 MPa.