Zn2+ release behavior and surface characteristics of Zn/LDPE nanocomposites and ZnO/LDPE nanocomposites in simulated uterine solution
To decrease the side effects of the existing copper-bearing intrauterine devices, the zinc/low-density polyethylene (Zn/LDPE) nanocomposite and zinc-oxide/low-density polyethylene (ZnO/LDPE) nanocomposite have been developed in our research for intrauterine devices (IUDs). In this study, the influences of preparation methods of nanocomposites and particle sizes of zinc and zinc oxide on Zn2+ release from composites incubated in simulated uterine solution were investigated. All release profiles are biphasic: an initial rapid release phase is followed by a near zero-order release period. Zn2+ release rates of nanocomposites prepared by compressing moulding are higher than those of the nanocomposites prepared by hot-melt extrusing. Compared with Zn2+ release from the microcomposites, the release profiles of the nanocomposites exhibit a sharp decrease in Zn2+ release rate in the first 18 days, an early onset of the zero-order release period and a high release rate of Zn2+ at the later stage. The microstructure of the Zn/LDPE sample and the ZnO/LDPE sample after being incubated for 200 days was characterized by SEM, XRD and EDX techniques. The results show that the dissolution depth of ZnO/LDPE nanocomposite is about 60 μm. Lots of pores were formed on the surface of the Zn/LDPE sample and ZnO/LDPE sample, indicating that these pores can provide channels for the dissolution of nanoparticles in the matrix. The undesirable deposits that are composed of ZnO are only detected on the surface of Zn/LDPE nanocomposite, which may increase the risk of side effects associated with IUDs. It can be expected that ZnO/LDPE nanocomposite is more suitable for IUDs than Zn/LDPE nanocomposite.