Indexed on: 30 Jan '10Published on: 30 Jan '10Published in: Biomacromolecules
The combination of bioactive ceramics and polymers can allow the preparation of composites with tailorable mechanical properties and bioactive behavior. In these composites, bioactive ceramics can act as a source of both reinforcement and bioactivity, while the polymer matrix can add toughness and processability to the material. On the other hand, the effect of using a highly dimensional unstable phase as a reinforcing agent on the long-term properties of the composite is a major concern regarding the lifetime of possible applications. In this work, a bioactive glass-polysulfone particulate composite was prepared by hot-pressing at 215 degrees C a mixture of polysulfone and different concentrations of bioactive glass particles (Bioglass 45S5, particle size range: 125-106 microm) to yield composites having 20 and 40 vol % of bioactive glass particles. The obtained composites were exposed to a simulated body fluid at 37 degrees C for different periods of time ranging from 1 h to 60 days. After the test, the mechanical properties of the composites were investigated by a four-point bending test, while DMS (dynamic mechanical spectroscopy) was used to identify the effect of water on the structure and behavior of the composite. The interface between glass particles and the polymer was also investigated by SEM/EDX and diffuse reflection infrared spectroscopy. The results showed that a decay in the mechanical properties of the composites within the first 20 h of test can occur. Otherwise, after this initial decay, no more pronounced reduction in properties could be noted. The analyses of the fracture surface of composites tested in vitro indicated the hydration of the surface of the particles. Therefore, it was concluded that water migration through the interface of the composite causes surface dissolution of glass particles and formation of voids, which were responsible for the observed decay in mechanical properties. Composites with modified interfaces revealed less damaged fracture surfaces than composites with untreated interfaces.