Ceramic/metal biocidal nanocomposites for bone-related applications
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Hydroxyapatite/silver nanocomposites have been designed and synthesized as an engineering material for biomedical applications. The hydroxyapatite matrix was synthesized by a sol–gel method and, subsequently, the Ag nanoparticles were deposited by heterogeneous precipitation followed by two different reduction routes: thermal or chemical. Both sets were studied and compared and, in all cases, the metal nanoparticles appear perfectly isolated and attached to the surface of the hydroxyapatite. The average metal particle size is below 10 nm, allowing an important contact surface between silver and the microorganisms. The antimicrobial behavior against common bacteria showed a high effectiveness, well above the commercial level, as well as against yeast, in the case of the chemically reduced sample. Due to the nanocomposite microstructure, only a negligible portion of metal was released to the lixiviated liquid after the biocide tests, minimizing the risk of toxicity. These nanocomposites offer a solution to the infections on the surface of implants, one of the main problems in reaching a suitable level of osseointegration.