Fabrication, chemical composition change and phase evolution of biomorphic hydroxyapatite
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Biomorphous, highly porous hydroxyapatite (HA) ceramics have been prepared by a combination of a novel biotemplating process and a sol–gel method, using natural plants like cane and pine as biotemplates. A HA sol was first synthesized from triethylphosphate and calcium nitrate used as the phosphorus and calcium precursors, respectively, and infiltrated into the biotemplates, and subsequently they were sintered at elevated temperatures to obtain porous HA ceramics. The microstructural changes, phase and chemical composition evolutions during the biotemplate-to-HA conversion were investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), and Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. The XRD and FT-IR analysis revealed that the dominant phase of the product was HA, which contained a small amount of mixed A/B-type carbonated HA, closely resembling that of human bone apatite. Moreover, the appearance of a small amount of secondary phase CaCO3 seemed unavoidable. The HA was not transformed to the other calcium phosphate phases up to 1400°C, but it contained a trace amount of CaO when sintered at above 1100°C. The possible transformation mechanism was proposed. The SEM observation and mechanical property test showed that as-produced HA ceramics retained the macro-/micro-porous structures of the biotemplates with high precision, and possessed acceptable mechanical strength, which is suggested to be potential scaffolds for bone tissue engineering.