Induction and Acceleration of Bonelike Apatite Formation on Tantalum Oxide Gel in Simulated Body Fluid
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Untreated tantalum metal forms bonelike apatite layer on its surface in a simulated body fluid (SBF) after a long period. The apatite formation on the tantalum metal is significantly accelerated, when the metal was previously subjected to NaOH and heat treatments to form an amorphous sodium tantalate on its surface. The fast formation of the apatite on the NaOH- and heat-treated tantalum metal was explained as follows. The sodium tantalate on the surface of the metal releases the Na+ ion via exchange with H3O+ ion in SBF to form a lot of Ta-OH groups on its surface. Thus formed Ta-OH groups induce the apatite nucleation and the released Na+ ion accelerates the apatite nucleation by increasing ionic activity product of the apatite in SBF due to increase in OH− ion concentration. In the present study, in order to confirm this explanation, apatite formations on sodium tantalate gels with different Na/Ta atomic ratios, which were prepared by a sol-gel method were investigated. It was found that even Na2O-free tantalum oxide gel forms the apatite on its surface in SBF. This proves that the Ta-OH groups abundant on the gel can induce the apatite nucleation. The apatite-forming ability of the gels increased with increasing Na/Ta atomic ratios of the gels. The sodium-containing tantalum oxide gels released the Na+ ion, the amount of which increased with increasing Na/Ta atomic ratios of the gels. The released Na+ ion gave an increase in pH of SBF. These results prove that the apatite nucleation induced by the Ta-OH groups is accelerated with the released Na+ ion by increasing ionic activity product of the apatite in SBF.
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