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ChBE 361


Materials Used For Biological Applications

Submitted by

Submitted to: PROF. DR. AL NEZH BLGE

Submission Date: 21 DECEMBER 2010

Yeditepe University




2.1 Metallic Biomaterials
2.2 Ceramic Biomaterials
2.3 Polymer Biomaterials
2.4 Composite Biomaterials





BIOMATERIALS IN ORTHOPAEDIC APPLICATIONS........................................




Biomaterials can be divided into four major classes of materials: polymers, metals,
ceramics (including carbons, glass ceramics, and glasses), and natural materials as
known as composite materials (including those from both plants and animals).
Sometimes two different classes of materials are combined together into a composite
material, such as silica-reinforced silicone rubber or carbon fiber- or hydroxyapatite
particle-reinforced poly (lactic acid). Such composites are a fifth class of biomaterials.
The use of biomaterials did not become practical until the advent of an aseptic
surgical technique developed by Dr.J.Lister in the 1860s. Earlier surgical procedures,
whether they involved biomaterials or not, were generally unsuccessful as a result of
infection. The wide diversity and sophistication of materials currently used in
medicine and biotechnology is testimony to the significant scientific and technological
advances that have occurred over the past 50 years. From World War II to the early
1960s, relatively few pioneering surgeons were taking commercially available
polymers and metals, fabricating implants and components of medical devices from
them, and applying them clinically. There was little government regulation of this
activity, and yet these earliest implants and devices had a remarkable success.
However, there were also some dramatic failures. This led the surgeons to enlist the
aid of physical, biological, and materials scientists and engineers, and the earliest
interdisciplinary bioengineering collaborations were born. These teams of
physicians and scientists and engineers not only recognized the need to control the
composition, purity, and physical properties of the materials they were using, but they

also recognized the need for new materials with new and special properties. This
stimulated the development of many new materials in the 1970s. New materials were
designed de novo specifically for medical use, such as biodegradable polymers and
bioactive ceramics. Some were derived from existing materials fabricated with new
technologies, such as polyester fibers that were knit or woven in the form of tubes for
use as vascular grafts, or cellulose acetate plastic that was processed as bundles of
hollow fibers for use in artificial kidney dialyzers. Some materials were borrowed
from unexpected sources such as pyrolytic carbons or titanium alloys that had been
developed for use in air and space technology.
And other materials were modified to provide special biological properties, such as
immobilization of heparin for anti-coagulant surfaces. More recently biomaterials
scientists and engineers have developed a growing interest in natural tissues and
polymers in combination with living cells. This is particularly evident in the field of
tissue engineering, which focuses on the repair or regeneration of natural tissues and
organs. This interest has stimulated the isolation, purification, and application of
many different natural materials.

Biomaterial is used to make devices to replace a part or a function of the body in a
safe, reliable, economic, and physiologically acceptable manner. Over the years,
various definitions of the term biomaterials have been purposed. For example, a
biomaterial can be simply defined as a synthetic material used to replace part of a
living system or a function in intimate contact with living tissue. The Clemson
University Advisory Board for Biomaterials has formally defined a biomaterial to be a
systemically and pharmacologically inert substance designed for implantation within
the or incorporation with living systems The National Institutes of Health Consensus
Development Conference defined a biomaterials as any substance (other than a
drug) or combination of substances, synthetic or natural in origin, which can be used
for any period of time, as a whole or as a part of a system which treats, augments, or
replaces any tissue, organ, or function of the body [1]. Black defined biomaterials as
a nonviable material used in a medical device, intended to interact with biological

The common denominator in all the definitions that have been proposed for
biomaterials is the undisputed recognition that biomaterials are distinct from other
classes of materials because of the special biocompatibility criteria they must meet.

Admittedly, any current definition of biomaterials is neither perfect nor complete

but has provided an excellent reference or starting point for discussion. It was
inevitable that such a definition would need updating to reflect both the evolution
of, and revolution in, the dynamic biomedical field. For example, there is an
increased emphasis on developing nontraditional clinical methodologies, such as
preventing and curing major genetic diseases. These trends in medicine present
unique challenges for the biomaterials field. Applications such as controlled delivery
of pharmaceuticals (drugs and vaccines), virally and non-virally mediated delivery
agents for gene therapy, and engineered functional tissues require vision,
nontraditional thinking, and novel design approaches. Most importantly, to meet the
present and future biomaterials challenges successfully, we need materials scientists
and engineers who are familiar with and sensitive to cellular, biochemical, molecular,
and genetic issues and who work effectively in teams of professionals who include
molecular biologists, biochemists, geneticists, physicians, and surgeons. Synthetic
materials currently used for biomedical applications include metals and alloys,
polymers, and ceramics. Because the structures of these materials differ, they have
different properties and, therefore, different uses in the body.

Table 1: Uses of Biomaterials

Problem Area
Replacement of diseased or damaged part
Assist in healing
Improve function

Artificial hip joint, kidney dialysis machine
Sutures, bone plates, and screws
Cardiac pacemaker, intraocular lens

Aid to diagnosis
Aid to treatment
Correct functional abnormality

Probes and catheters

Catheters, drains
Cardiac pacemaker

2.1 Metallic Biomaterials

Metals are used as biomaterials due to their excellent electrical and thermal
conductivity and mechanical properties. Since some electrons are independent in
metals, they can quickly transfer an electric charge and thermal energy. The mobile
free electrons act as the binding force to hold the positive metal ions together. This
attraction is strong, as evidenced by the closely packed atomic arrangement resulting
in high specic gravity and high melting points of most metals. Since the metallic
bond is essentially non-directional, the position of the metal ions can be altered
without destroying the crystal structure resulting in a plastically deformable solid.
Some metals are used as passive substitutes for hard tissue replacement
such as total hip and knee joints, for fracture healing aids as bone plates and screws,
spinal xation devices, and dental implants because of their excellent mechanical
properties and corrosion resistance. Some metallic alloys are used for more active
roles in devices such as vascular stents, catheter guide wires, orthodontic archwires,
and cochlea implants.
The rst metal alloy developed specically for human use was the vanadium
steel which was used to manufacture bone fracture plates (Sherman plates) and
screws. Most metals such as iron (Fe), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni),
titanium (Ti), tantalum (Ta), niobium (Nb), molybdenum (Mo),and tungsten (W) that
were used to make alloys for manufacturing implants can only be tolerated by the
body in minute amounts. Sometimes those metallic elements, in naturally occurring
forms, are essential in red blood cell functions (Fe) or synthesis of a vitamin
B12 (Co), but cannot be tolerated in large amounts in the body [2] The biocompatibility
of the metallic implant is of consider able concern because these implants can
corrode in an in vivo environment [3]. The consequences of corrosion are the
disintegration of the implant material per se, which will weaken the implant, and the
harmful effect of corrosion products on the surrounding tissues and organs.

2.2 Ceramic Materials

Ceramics are dened as the art and science of making and using solid articles
that have as their essential component inorganic nonmetallic materials [4]. Ceramics
are refractory, polycrystalline-line compounds, usually inorganic, including silicates,
metallic oxides, carbides and various refractory hydrides, suldes, and selenides.
Oxides such as Al2O3, MgO,SiO2, and ZrO 2 contain metallic and nonmetallic
elements and ionic salts, such as NaCl, CsCl, and ZnS [5]. Exceptions to the
preceding include covalently bonded ceramics such as diamond and carbonaceous
structures such as graphite and pyrolyzed carbons [5]. Ceramics in the form of pottery
have been used by humans for thousands of years. Until recently, their use was
somewhat limited because of their inherent brittleness, susceptibility to notches or
micro-cracks, low tensile strength, and low impact strength. However, within the last
100 years, innovative techniques for fabricating ceramics have led to their use as
high tech materials. In recent years, human shave realized that ceramics and their
composites can also be used to augment or replace various parts of the body,
particularly bone. Thus, the ceramics used for the latter purposes are classied as
bioceramics. Their relative inertness to the body uids, high compressive strength,
and aesthetically pleasing appearance led to the use of ceramics in dentistry as
dental crowns. Some carbons have found use as implants especially for blood
interfacing applications such as heart valves. Due to their high specic strength as
bers and their biocompatibility, ceramics are also being used as reinforcing
components of composite implant materials and for tensile loading applications such
as articial tendons and ligaments [5]
Unlike metals and polymers, ceramics are difcult to shear plastically due to
the (ionic) nature of the bonding and minimum number of slip systems. These
characteristics make the ceramics non-ductile and are responsible for almost zero
creep at room temperature [5]. Consequently, ceramic are very susceptible to notches
or micro cracks because instead of undergoing plastic deformation (oryield) they will
fracture elastically on initiation of a crack. At the crack tip the stress could be many
timeshigher than the stress in the material away from the tip, resulting in a stress
concentration which weakensthe material considerably. The latter makes it difcult to

predict the tensile strength of the material(ceramic). This is also the reason ceramics
have low tensile strength compared to compressive strength. If a ceramic is awless,
it is very strong even when subjected to tension. Flawless glassbers have twice the
tensile strengths of high strength steel[5].

Ceramics are generally hard; in fact, the measurement of hardness is

calibrated against ceramic materials. Other characteristic properties are high melting
temperatures and low conductivity of electricity and heat. These characteristics are
due to the chemical bonding within ceramics.
Ceramics used in fabricating implants can be classied as non-absorbable
(relatively inert), bioactive or surface reactive (semi-inert) [6], and biodegradable or
resorbable (non-inert) [7]

2.3 Polymeric Biomaterials

Polymers have very long chain molecules which are formed by covalent
bonding along the backbone chain. The long chains are held together either by
secondary bonding forces such as van der Waals and hydrogen bonds or primary
covalent bonding forces through cross links between chains. The long chains are
very exible and can be tangled easily. In addition, each chain can have side groups,
branches, and co-polymeric chains or blocks which can also interfere with the longrange ordering of chains

Synthetic polymeric materials have been widely used in medical disposable

supplies, prosthetic materials, dental materials, implants, dressings, extracorporeal
devices, encapsulants, polymeric drug delivery systems, tissue engineered products,
and orthodoses like those of metal and ceramics substituents [8]. The main advantages
of the polymeric biomaterials compared to metal or ceramic materials are ease of
manufacturability to produce various shapes (latex,lm, sheet,bers, etc.), ease of
secondary processability, reasonable cost, and availability with desired mechanical and
physical properties. The required properties of polymeric biomaterials are similar to
other biomaterials, that is, biocompatibility, sterilizability, adequate mechanical and
physical properties, and manufacturability.

2.4 Composite materials

Composite materials are solids which contain two or more distinct constituent
materials or phases on a scale larger than the atomic. The term composite is usually
reserved for those materials in which the distinct phases are separated on a scale
larger than the atomic, and in which properties such as the elastic modulus are
signicantly altered in comparison with those of a homogeneous material. Accordingly,
reinforced plastics such as berglass as well as natural materials such as bone are
viewed as composite materials, but alloys such as brass are not. A foam is a
composite in which one phase is empty space. Natural biological materials tend to be
composites. Natural composites include bone, wood, dentin, cartilage, and skin.
Natural foams include lung, cancellous bone, and wood. Natural composites often
exhibit hierarchical structures in which particulate, porous, and brous structural
features are seen on different micro-scales [9]. Composite materials offer a variety of
advantages in comparison with homogeneous materials. These include the ability for
the scientist orengineer to exercise considerable control over material properties.
There is the potential for stiff, strong, lightweight materials as well as for highly resilient
and compliant materials. In biomaterials, it is important that each constituent of the
composite be biocompatible. Moreover, the interface between constituents should not
be degraded by the body environment. Some applications of composites in biomaterial
applications are dental lling composites, reinforced methyl methacrylate bone cement
and ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, and orthopedic implants with porous


In the past, success of materials in biomedical applications was not so much the
outcome of meticulous selection based on biocompatibility criteria but rather the result of
serendipity, continuous refinement in fabrication technology, and advances in material
surface treatment.
In the present and future, election of a biomaterial for a specific application must be
based on several criteria. The physicochemical properties and durability of the material,
the desired function of the prosthesis, the nature of the physiological environment at the
organ and tissue level, adverse effects in case of failure, as well as cost and production
issues must be considered for each specific application.
Biocompatibility is the paramount criterion that must be met by every biomaterial.
Mechanical requirements must also be taken into consideration when choosing materials
for biological applications. Material strength (tensile or compressive), stiffness, fatigue
endurance, wear resistance, and dimensional stability should be considered with respect
to the end use of the prosthetic device to ensure its success. For example, a rigid, strong
material would be more suitable for a hip implant, whereas a flexible, less strong material
would be sufficient for a vascular graft. Moreover, the performance of materials under
dynamic loading conditions must be considered when appropriate, because many
implants are subjected to various types and magnitudes of repeated stresses in the body.
Consider a hip, knee, or ligament replacement that will be subjected to approximately
one million steps per year, while various other physical activities will exert different loads
across the joints. At 70 beats per minute, a prosthetic heart valve would experience over
three and a half million cycles per year. Other physical properties (such as electrical and
thermal conductivity, light transmission) are important for specific applications, such as
pacemaker electrodes, intraocular lenses, and dental restoratives, and must be
considered when applicable. Because the practice of medicine and surgery requires
sterile products, decisions regarding choice of biomaterial(s) for a specific application
should include consideration of sterilization of the final product(s). Moist heat and high
pressure, ethylene oxide gas, and gamma radiation are procedures commonly used in
sterilizing biomedical materials and devices. Special care should be taken with polymers
that do not tolerate heat, absorb and subsequently release ethylene oxide (a toxic
substance), and degrade when exposed to radiation.


TABLE 2: Some Applications of Synthetic Materials and Modified Natural

Materials in Biological applications


Types of materials

Skeletal system
Joint replacements
(hip, knee)

Titanium, TiAlV alloy, stainless

steel, polyethylene

Bone plate for fracture


Stainless steel, cobaltchromium


Bone cement
Bony defect repair
Artificial tendon and

Poly(methyl methacrylate)
Teflon, Dacron

Dental implant for tooth


Titanium, TiAlV alloy, stainless

steel, polyethylene
Titanium, alumina, calcium

Cardiovascular system
Blood vessel prosthesis
Heart valve

Dacron, Teflon, polyurethane

Reprocessed tissue, stainless steel,
Silicone rubber, Teflon,

Artificial heart
Skin repair template
Heartlung machine
Artificial kidney

Siliconecollagen composite
Silicone rubber
Cellulose, polyacrylonitrile

Cochlear replacement
Contact lens
Intraocular lens

Platinum electrodes
Silicone-acrylate, hydrogel
Poly(methyl methacrylate), silicone
rubber, hydrogel



Biomaterials describes both living tissue and materials used for implantation.An
implant should possess some important properties in order to long-term usage in the
body without rejection. Therefore , the selection of an appropriate material to place in
the human body is one of the most difficult tasks.
The selection of these biomaterials depend on their mechanical and non- mechanical
Inadequate strength can cause to fracture the implant. This fact causes pain to
Large differences in modulus between implant materials and the surrounding
bone can contribute to a generation of stress shielding effect, that may weaken
the bond and deteriorate the implant/bone interface and loosening.
The implants release undesirable metal ions (corrosion products) either can
accumulate in tissues, near the implant or they may be transported to other
parts of the body. this phenomena reduce the life of implant device and leads to
an alergic reactions.
The low wear resistance results in implant loosening and lead to the destruction
of the healthy bone which supports the actual implant.
Biocompatibility is the ability to exist in contact with tissues of the human body
without causing an unacceptable degree of harm to the body. Body reaction
and adverse effects in the organic system.
Osseointegration is the process of formation of new bone and bone healing.
The incapability of an implant surface to join with the adjacent bone and other tissues
results in formation of a fibrous tissue around the implant and promote loosening of the
prostheses. Thus, materials with a proper surface are extremely essential for the
implant to integrate well with the surrounding bone.
316 L Stainless steels used primarily because of their better corrosion
resistance than other metals due to their high Cr content.
In spite of this, the wear resistance of 316 L stainless steel is relatively poor. As
a result of low wear resistance, corrosion occurs. Undesirable metal ions either can
accumulate in tissues, near the implant or they may be transported to other parts of the
body and leads to an allergic reactions appears in a patients.
Large differences between modulus and resistance results in implant loosening
and lead to the destruction of the healthy bone which supports the actual implant.

Moreover, the the modulus of stainless steel is much higher than that of bone.
This phenomena can contribute to a generation of stress shielding effect, that may
weaken the bond and deteriorate the implant/bone interface and loosening.Thus,
stainless steels are suitable fr use only in temporary implant devices such as fracture
plates,screws, and hip nails.
Co-Ni-Cr-Mo alloy has been used for many decades in dentistry, making
artificial joints, the stems of prosthesis of heavily loaded joints such as the knee and
These materials have superior mechanical properties such as high resistance to
fatigue and cracking caused by corrosion with a good wear resistance. Also they are
not brittle because they have a minimum elongation.
Titanium alloys also have high strength, good resistance to corrosion ,complete
inertness to body environment, enhanced biocompatibility, moderate elastic modulus
suitable choice for implantation. Ti and its alloy also have this ability to become tightly
integrated into bone. This high capacity to join with bone and other tissues
considerably improves the long-term behavior of the implanted devices, decreasing the
risks of loosening and failure.
Ceramics generally have ionic bonds or ionic with some covalent bonds.
In prosthetic hip and knee bearings, ceramic surfaces offer a major benefit of
drastically reduced wear rates and excellent long-term biocompatibility, which can
increase the longevity of prosthetic hip and knee joints.
However, ceramics are brittle and the risk of catastrophic bearing failure in
biological applications. Improvements in material quality, manufacturing methods, and
implant design have resulted in a drastic reduction of the incidence of such failures, so
that modern ceramic bearings are safe and reliable if used with components of proven
design and durability.
Polymers are organic materials that form large chains made up of many
repeating units. Polymers are extensively used in joint replacement components. The
main advantages of polymeric biomaterials compared to metal and ceramics are ease
of manufacturability to produce variousshapes(latex,film,sheet,fibers), ease of
secondary processability,reasonable cost and availability with desired mechanical and
physical properties.



[1] Boretos and Eden,1984

[2] Black, 1992
[3] Williams, 1982
[4] Kingery et al., 1976
[5] Park and Lakes, 1992
[6] Hench, 1991, 1993
[7] Hen-trich et al., 1971; Graves et al., 1972
[8] Lee,1989
[9] Katz, 1980; Lakes, 1993
[10] Joon B. Park and Joseph D. Bronzino, Biomaterials: Principles and Applications
[11] David A. Puleo and Rena Bizios, An introduction to Tissue-Biomaterial
[12] Bilim ve Teknik, Biyomalzemeler; Temmuz 2002