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Dually porous glass shows promise in helping damaged bone regenerate

Jain consulted with Rui Almeida, professor of materials science and engineering at the Instituto Superior Tecnico and visiting professor at the IMI-NFG. Marques began experimenting with the sol-gel process, a technique that uses relatively low temperatures to prepare glass. The process inherently promotes nanoporosity; to achieve interconnected macroporosity, Marques added a polymer to the sol-gel solution.

The polymer caused a phase separation to occur parallel to the sol-to-gel transition and also enabled Marques to overcome a simple law of thermodynamics, says Jain.

"Thermodynamically, the coexistence of nanopores and macropores is unstable in that the larger pores should absorb the smaller pores," he says. "But with Ana's help, we have developed a material that defeats that expectation."

Marques has produced glass with nanopores measuring 5 to 20 nm in diameter and macropores measuring more than 100 microns across, or roughly 10,000 times the size of the nanopores.

In a related project, other researchers at Lehigh's IMI have refined the traditional melt-quench glass-making technique to produce glass that is both nano- and macroporous. A team led by Hassan Moawad, a member of the materials science faculty at Alexandria, achieved the dual porosity by developing an effective combination of silicon, calcium, phosphorous and boron oxides in the powders that are melted to make glass. The researchers also used a chemical treatment to etch the glass and induce the desired porosity.

Jain's group at Lehigh is continuing to investigate the fabrication process, mechanical properties and bioactivity of the new materials. Another Lehigh group, led by Prof. Matthias Falk of biological sciences, is measuring the responses of cells that interact with the glass materials.

The researchers are also collaborating through the U.S.-Africa Materials Institute, which is headquartered at Princeton.


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Contact: Kurt Pfitzer
kap4@lehigh.edu
610-758-3017
Lehigh University
5-Dec-2006


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