The influence of micropore size on the mechanical properties of bulk hydroxyapatite and hydroxyapatite scaffolds

Jacqueline M. Cordell, Michelle L. Vogl, Amy J. Wagoner Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


While recognized as a promising bone substitute material, hydroxyapatite (HA) has had limited use in clinical settings because of its inherent brittle behavior. It is well established that macropores (∼100 μm) in a HA implant, or scaffold, are required for bone ingrowth, but recent research has shown that ingrowth is enhanced when scaffolds also contain microporosity. HA is sensitive to synthesis and processing parameters and therefore characterization for specific applications is necessary for transition to the clinic. To that end, the mechanical behavior of bulk microporous HA and HA scaffolds with multi-scale porosity (macropores between rods in the range of 250-350 μm and micropores within the rods with average size of either 5.96 μm or 16.2 μm) was investigated in order to determine how strength and reliability were affected by micropore size (5.96 μm versus 16.2 μm). For the bulk microporous HA, strength increased with decreasing micropore size in both bending (19 MPa to 22 MPa) and compression (71 MPa to 110 MPa). To determine strength reliability, the Weibull moduli for the bulk microporous HA were determined. The Weibull moduli for bending increased (became more reliable) with decreasing pore size (7 to 10) while the Weibull moduli for compression decreased (became less reliable) with decreasing pore size (9 to 6). Furthermore, the elastic properties of the bulk microporous HA (elastic modulus of 30 GPa) and the compressive strengths of the HA scaffolds with multi-scale porosity (8 MPa) did not vary with pore size. The mechanisms responsible for the trends observed were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-570
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials

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