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The University of Southampton

Research project: Micromechanical aspects of fatigue failure in conventional and carbon nanotube-reinforced acrylic bone cement

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Bone cement is required for the majority of implant procedures. The mechanical integrity of cemented implants may be compromised by fatigue failure of the bone cement, mainly due to internal defects or debonding at the implant interfaces; improvements in the mechanical properties of bone cement may therefore be valuable if the implant lifetime of cemented arthroplasties are to be increased and revision rates decreased.

This project investigated the use of synchrotron X-ray microtomography for the observation of internal defects and failure processes that occur during fatigue loading. Acoustic emission, ultrasound and/or micro-focus computed tomography scans were used to capture and describe the early stages of crack initiation. A new mechanism of crack initiation is proposed where porosity and local BaSO4 distribution are seen to act together to cause resultant crack initiation in the cement matrix rather than directly from pore surfaces.

The use of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for future reinforced cement compounds was also explored; The project confirmed that CNT-reinforcement (using shear mixing techniques) enhanced the fatigue performance of a PMMA matrix and additional acoustic emission parameter-based analyses confirmed that the presence of CNTs alters the
associated failure mechanisms. These results suggested that enhanced fatigue performance might be achieved by means of CNT reinforcement of the matrix.

Carbon nanotube-reinforced acrylic bone cement
Acrylic bone

Related research groups

Bioengineering Science
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