[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Silicon nitride has demonstrated to be a potential candidate for clinical applications because it is a non-cytotoxic material and has satisfactory fracture toughness, high wear resistance and low friction coefficient. In this paper, samples of silicon nitride, which were kept into rabbits' tibias for 8 weeks, and the adjacent bone tissue were analysed by scanning electron microscopy in order to verify the bone growth around the implants and the interaction between the implant and the bone. Bone growth occurred mainly in the cortical areas, although it has been observed that the newly bone tends to grow toward the marrow cavity. Differences were observed between the implants installed into distal and proximal regions. In the first region, where the distance between the implant and the cortical bone is greater than in the proximal region, the osteoconduction process was evidenced by the presence of a bridge bone formation toward the implant surface. The results showed that silicon nitride can be used as biomaterial since the newly bone grew around the implants.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Silicon nitride-based ceramics are potential candidates as materials for orthopedic implants due to their chemical stability associated with suitable fracture toughness and propitious tribologic characteristics. Therefore, in this work, dense silicon nitride components are investigated considering their suitability as biomaterials. Initially, two different compositions of silicon nitride were considered, using ytterbium, yttrium and aluminum oxides as sintering aids. The materials were sintered in a carbon resistance furnace under nitrogen atmosphere and were analyzed by means of X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) in order to characterize the microstructure. Indentation method was applied in order to obtain hardness and fracture toughness measurements, and in vitro test of cytotoxicity was performed for a preliminary biological evaluation. A microstructure composed of grains of beta-silicon nitride distributed in a secondary phase was observed. The samples achieved fracture toughness values of 5 MPa m1/2 and Vickers hardness values of 13 GPa. Since a nontoxic behavior has been observed during the cytotoxicity tests with the samples, this finding suggests that silicon nitride-based ceramic can be used as a material for clinical applications.