Scientists are describing development of a potential implant material that flexes more like natural bone, fosters the growth of bone that keeps implants firmly in place and is less likely to fail.
Their study on these so-called tantalum nanotube materials appears in ACS Applied Material & Interfaces.
Hongyi Li, Jinshu Wang and Zhenting Zhang explain that the metal tantalum has advantages over titanium, stainless steel and other metals used in the current generation of bone implants. For example, tantalum implants are more porous than titanium, encouraging bone growth and making the implants rougher and more elastic, like natural bone. So far, however, tantalum has found use mainly in devices that bridge fractures and other defects in bone, rather than in hip joint replacements and other joint implants. The scientists set out to find a new coating for tantalum to make better implants.