Strontium has been substituted for calcium in the glass series (SiO2)49.46(Na2O)26.38(P2O5)1.07(CaO)23.08x(SrO)x (where x = 0, 11.54, 23.08) to elucidate their underlying atomic-scale structural characteristics as a basis for understanding features related to the bioactivity. These bioactive glasses have been investigated using isomorphic neutron and X-ray diffraction, Sr K-edge EXAFS and solid state 17O, 23Na, 29Si, 31P and 43Ca magic-angle-spinning (MAS) NMR. An effective isomorphic substitution first-order difference function has been applied to the neutron diffraction data, confirming that Ca and Sr behave in a similar manner within the glass network, with residual differences attributed to solely the variation in ionic radius between the two species. The diffraction data provides the first direct experimental evidence of split Ca–O nearest-neighbour correlations in these melt quench bioactive glasses, together with an analogous splitting of the Sr–O correlations; the correlations are attributed to the metal ions correlated either to bridging or to non-bridging oxygen atoms. Triple quantum (3Q) 43Ca MAS NMR corroborates the split Ca–O correlations. Successful simplification of the 2 < r (A) < 3 region via the difference method has also revealed two distinct Na environments. These environments are attributed to sodium correlated either to bridging or to nonbridging oxygen atoms. Complementary multinuclear MAS NMR, Sr K-edge EXAFS and X-ray diffraction data supports the structural model presented. The structural sites present will be intimately related to their release properties in physiological fluids such as plasma and saliva, and hence the bioactivity of the material. Detailed structural knowledge is therefore a prerequisite for optimising material design.
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