Recent work has highlighted the potential of sol-gel-derived calcium silicate glasses for the regeneration or replacement of damaged bone tissue. The work presented herein provides new insight into the processing of bioactive calcia-silica sol-gel foams, and the reaction mechanisms associated with them when immersed in vitro in a simulated body fluid (SBF). Small-angle X-ray scattering and wide-angle X-ray scattering (diffraction) have been used to study the stabilization of these foams via heat treatment, with analogous in situ time-resolved data being gathered for a foam immersed in SBF. During thermal processing, pore sizes have been identified in the range of 16.5-62.0 nm and are only present once foams have been heated to 400 degrees C and above. Calcium nitrate crystallites were present until foams were heated to 600 degrees C; the crystallite size varied from 75 to 145 nm and increased in size with heat treatment up to 300 degrees C, then decreased in size down to 95 rim at 400 degrees C. The in situ time-resolved data show that the average pore diameter decreases as a function of immersion time in SBF, as calcium phosphates grow on the glass surfaces. Over the same time, Bragg peaks indicative of tricalcium phosphate were evident after only 1-h immersion time, and later, hydroxycarbonate apatite was also seen. The hydroxycarbonate apatite appears to have preferred orientation in the (h,k,0) direction.
- small angle X-ray diffraction
- wide angle X-ray diffraction
- bioactive foam scaffolds
- thermal stabilization
- simulated body fluid