From Micro-CT to Multiscale Mechanics of Double-Porous Hydroxyapatite Granules for Regenerative Medicine

Alexander Dejaco, Vladimir S. Komlev, Alexey N. Gurin, Jakub Jaroszewicz, Wojciech Swieszkowski, and Christian Hellmich




Hundred micrometers-sized porous hydroxyapatite globules have proved as successful tissue engineering strategy for bone defects in vivo, as was shown in studies on human mandibles. These granules need to provide enough porous space for bone ingrowth, while maintaining sufficient mechanical competence (stiffness and strength) in this highly load-bearing organ. This double challenge motivates us to scrutinize more deeply the micro and nanomechanical characteristics of such globules, as to identify possible optimization routes. Therefore, we imaged such a (pre-cracked) granule in a microCT scanner, transformed the attenuation coefficients into voxel-specific nanoporosities, from which we determined, via polycrystal micromechanics, voxel-specific (heterogeneous) elastic properties. The importance of the latter and of the presence of one to several hundred micrometers-sized cracks for realistically estimating the load-carrying behavior of the globule under a typical two-point compressive loading (as in a “splitting” test) is shown through results of large-scale Finite Element analyses, in comparison to analytical results for a sphere loaded at its poles: Use of homogeneous instead of heterogeneous elastic properties would overestimate the structure’s stiffness by 5% (when employing a micromechanics- based process as to attain homogeneous properties) - the cracks, in comparison, weaken the structure by one to two orders of magnitudes.

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