Silicon-substituted hydroxyapatite (SiHA): A novel calcium phosphate coating for biomedical applications
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- Thian, E.S., Huang, J., Vickers, M.E. et al. J Mater Sci (2006) 41: 709. doi:10.1007/s10853-006-6489-8
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Hydroxyapatite [Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2], (HA) is similar in composition to bone mineral and has been found to promote new bone formation when implanted in a skeletal defect. However, its use in biomedical applications is limited by its relatively slow rate of biological interaction, and there is also a requirement to improve the success rate of HA implants in younger active patients, particularly where implants will be in place long-term. The addition of silicon (Si) into HA has been demonstrated to enhance the speed, and quality of the bone repair process. This paper describes the synthesis and detailed characterisation of nanocrystalline silicon-substituted hydroxyapatite (SiHA) thin coatings applied to a titanium substrate via a magnetron co-sputtering process. Amorphous SiHA coatings (∼1 μm thick) with varying Si content up to 4.9 wt% were produced before being transformed into crystalline films by heat-treatment. The crystalline coating was characterised by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and infrared (IR) analysis, and confirmed to be a single-phase apatite. The substitution of Si into HA resulted in an increase in both the a- and c-axes of the unit cell parameters, but a decrease in the crystallite size, with increasing Si substitution. This substitution also caused a decrease in the intensities of both the O–H and P–O bands in the IR spectra. Hence, these findings confirmed that the crystal structure of HA was altered with Si substitution. In vitro cell culture work showed that these SiHA thin coatings exhibited enhanced bioactivity and biofunctionality. An increase in the attachment and growth of human osteoblast-like (HOB) cells on these coatings was observed throughout the culture period, with the formation of extracellular matrix. In addition, confocal microscopy revealed that HOBs developed mature cytoskeletons with clear evidence of actin stress fibres, along with defined cell nuclei.