A New Gold Standard for Artificial Joints (Titanium + gold) – High Hardness in the Biocompatible Intermetallic Compound β-Ti3Au

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A New Gold Standard for Artificial Joints (Titanium + gold) – High Hardness in the Biocompatible Intermetallic Compound β-Ti3Au

Rice Lab Discovers Titanium-Gold Alloy that is Four Times Harder than Most Steels

Titanium is the leading material for artificial knee and hip joints because it’s strong, wear-resistant and nontoxic, but an unexpected discovery by Rice University physicists shows that the gold standard for artificial joints can be improved with the addition of some actual gold.

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“This began from my core research,” said Morosan, professor of physics and astronomy, of chemistry and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice. “We published a study not long ago on titanium-gold, a 1-to-1 ratio compound that was a magnetic material made from nonmagnetic elements. One of the things that we do when we make a new compound is try to grind it into powder for X-ray purposes. This helps with identifying the composition, the purity, the crystal structure and other structural properties.

“When we tried to grind up titanium-gold, we couldn’t,” she recalled. “I even bought a diamond (coated) mortar and pestle, and we still couldn’t grind it up.”

Morosan and Svanidze decided to do follow-up tests to determine exactly how hard the compound was, and while they were at it, they also decided to measure the hardness of the other compositions of titanium and gold that they had used as comparisons in the original study.

One of the extra compounds was a mixture of three parts titanium and one part gold that had been prepared at high temperature.

What the team didn’t know at the time was that making titanium-3-gold at relatively high temperature produces an almost pure crystalline form of the beta version of the alloy — the crystal structure that’s four times harder than titanium. At lower temperatures, the atoms tend to arrange in another cubic structure — the alpha form of titanium-3-gold. The alpha structure is about as hard as regular titanium. It appears that labs that had previously measured the hardness of titanium-3-gold had measured samples that largely consisted of the alpha arrangement of atoms.

The team measured the hardness of the beta form of the crystal in conjunction with colleagues at Texas A&M University’s Turbomachinery Laboratory and at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University, Morosan and Svanidze also performed other comparisons with titanium. For biomedical implants, for example, two key measures are biocompatibility and wear resistance. Because titanium and gold by themselves are among the most biocompatible metals and are often used in medical implants, the team believed titanium-3-gold would be comparable. In fact, tests by colleagues at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston determined that the new alloy was even more biocompatible than pure titanium. The story proved much the same for wear resistance: Titanium-3-gold also outperformed pure titanium.

Morosan said she has no plans to become a materials scientist or dramatically alter her lab’s focus, but she said her group is planning to conduct follow-up tests to further investigate the crystal structure of beta titanium-3-gold and to see if chemical dopants might improve its hardness even further.

Additional co-authors include Pulickel Ajayan, Sruthi Radhakrishnan and Chandra Sekhar Tiwary, all of Rice; Tiglet Besara, Yan Xin, Ke Han and Theo Siegrist, all of Florida State; Fevzi Ozaydin and Hong Liang, both of Texas A&M; and Sendurai Mani of MD Anderson. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, Texas A&M’s Turbomachinery Laboratory and the Florida State University Research Foundation.

Author Information

Eteri Svanidze, Tiglet Besara, M. Fevsi Ozaydin, Chandra Sekhar Tiwary, Jiakui K. Wang, Sruthi Radhakrishnan, Sendurai Mani, Yan Xin, Ke Han, Hong Liang, Theo Siegrist, Pulickel M. Ajayan and E. Morosan

  • 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA.
  • 2National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32310, USA.
  • 3Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.
  • 4Materials Science and NanoEngineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA.
  • 5Department of Translational Molecular Pathology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77005, USA.
  • Corresponding author. Email: emorosan@rice.edu

Science Advances  20 Jul 2016:

Vol. 2, no. 7, e1600319

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600319

Read more info via:

http://news.rice.edu

http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/7/e1600319

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