Deepening our understanding of bioactive glass crystallization using TEM and 3D nano-CT

Contreras Jaimes AT, de Pablos-Martín A, Hurle K, Martins de Souza e Silva J, Berthold L, Kittel T, Boccaccini AR, Brauer DS (2021)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2021


DOI: 10.1016/j.jeurceramsoc.2021.02.051


One key issue influencing a broader application of Bioglass 45S5 in tissue engineering is its inherent crystallization tendency, severely limiting the mechanical strength of 3D porous scaffolds. Despite numerous studies, Bioglass 45S5 crystallization is not yet fully understood with regard to the mechanisms involved or morphology of the crystal phases forming. Here we show how two cutting-edge imaging techniques, state-of-the-art transmission electron microscopy (TEM) with image correction including energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and X-ray nano-computed tomography (nano-CT), allowed us to visualize changes in microstructure from near-nucleation to almost full crystallization in bulk Bioglass 45S5. At early times of heat treatment at 660 °C the formation of phase-separated nano-droplets within the glassy matrix was observed. Later, besides surface crystallization, bulk crystallization of combeite spheres was predominant. The formation of the first combeite spheres, their coarsening with time and finally their merging at near full crystallization were recorded by in situ high-temperature optical microscopy videos. The 3D nature of these spheres was confirmed by nano-CT, while TEM showed that their internal structure was composed of sub-micron grains. X-ray diffraction analysis at early time points showed a much higher crystalline fraction in bulk samples compared to powder samples, highlighting the influence of processing and sample morphology. These results show the importance of using complementary techniques for gaining insight into the crystallization process in the volume. In addition, we show that TEM and nano-CT are suitable characterization techniques to visualize the crystallization even in fast crystallizing systems, such as bioactive glasses.

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Contreras Jaimes, A.T., de Pablos-Martín, A., Hurle, K., Martins de Souza e Silva, J., Berthold, L., Kittel, T.,... Brauer, D.S. (2021). Deepening our understanding of bioactive glass crystallization using TEM and 3D nano-CT. Journal of the European Ceramic Society.


Contreras Jaimes, Altair T., et al. "Deepening our understanding of bioactive glass crystallization using TEM and 3D nano-CT." Journal of the European Ceramic Society (2021).

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