Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Arvind Agarwal

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lidia Kos

Third Advisor's Name

W. Kinzy Jones

Fourth Advisor's Name

Norman D. H. Munroe


Orthpedic, Bioceramic, Carbon Nanotube, Boron Nitride Nanotube, Hydroxyapatite, Osseointegration, Osteoblast, Cell Adhesion, Biocompatibility, Nano Indentation

Date of Defense



Hydroxyapatite (HA) has received wide attention in orthopedics, due to its biocompatibility and osseointegration ability. Despite these advantages, the brittle nature and low fracture toughness of HA often results in rapid wear and premature fracture of implant. Hence, there is a need to improve the fracture toughness and wear resistance of HA without compromising its biocompatibility.

The aim of the current research is to explore the potential of nanotubes as reinforcement to HA for orthopedic implants. HA- 4 wt.% carbon nanotube (CNT) composites and coatings are synthesized by spark plasma sintering and plasma spraying respectively, and investigated for their mechanical, tribological and biological behavior. CNT reinforcement improves the fracture toughness (>90%) and wear resistance (>66%) of HA for coating and free standing composites. CNTs have demonstrated a positive influence on the proliferation, differentiation and matrix mineralization activities of osteoblasts, during in-vitro biocompatibility studies. In-vivo exposure of HA-CNT coated titanium implant in animal model (rat) shows excellent histocompatibility and neobone integration on the implant surface. The improved osseointegration due to presence of CNTs in HA is quantified by the adhesion strength measurement of single osteoblast using nano-scratch technique.

Considering the ongoing debate about cytotoxicity of CNTs in the literature, the present study also suggests boron nitride nanotube (BNNT) as an alternative reinforcement. BNNT with the similar elastic modulus and strength as CNT, were added to HA. The resulting composite having 4 wt.% BNNTs improved the fracture toughness (~85%) and wear resistance (~75%) of HA in the similar range as HA-CNT composites. BNNTs were found to be non-cytotoxic for osteoblasts and macrophages. In-vitro evaluation shows positive role of BNNT in osteoblast proliferation and viability. Apatite formability of BNNT surface in ~4 days establishes its osseointegration ability.



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