Electrically Active Ceramics for Bone Graft Substitution

  • Frances Baxter

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Hydroxyapatite (HA) bioceramics are commercially available as bone graft substitute materials. The aim of the current research was to characterise the electrical properties of hydroxyapatite-barium titanate (HABT) composites and to assess in vitro biological responses to the composites in order to investigate their potential use as bone graft substitutes. A range of HABT ceramics of different compositions was manufactured and their electrical properties were measured. The microstructure and piezoelectric properties of the ceramics were both dependent on the proportion of barium titanate (BT) present. Composites containing more than 70% BT displayed piezoelectric charge coefficients (d33) of up to 86.3±7.9pCN-1 (95% BT). The ferroelectric nature of the 90 and 95% BT materials was confirmed by assessment of their ferroelectric hysteresis loops. The highest piezoelectric voltage coefficient (g33) recorded was 14x10-3Vm-1Pa-1 (90% BT). Following the assessment of the electrical properties, the HABT ceramic containing 90% BT was selected for the assessment of biological responses to the composites. The proliferation, viability, activity and morphology of human osteoblast-like cells cultured on HABT were comparable to those cultured on hydroxyapatite (HA) up to 7 days after seeding. The remnant polarisation of poled HABT induced an increase in cell attachment. This influence was independent of the nature (positive or negative) of the polarisation. Poling was not found to influence cell morphology, activity or differentiation in the first 7 days of incubation. At 14 days after seeding, results were inconsistent, indicating some variations in cell population and differentiation depending on the composition and poling of the ceramics respectively. This study has substantially defined the electrical properties of a range of HABT ceramics. It indicates their in vitro biocompatibility and thus their potential for use as bone graft substitutes. These results provide a benchmark against which future work investigating the influence of mechanical loading and longer term studies may be measured.
Date of Award1 Dec 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorIrene Turner (Supervisor), Chris Bowen (Supervisor) & Julian Chaudhuri (Supervisor)


  • Piezoelectricity
  • Hydroxyapatite
  • Biomaterials
  • Bone Graft

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