Journal Publications

1. Lison Rocher, Andrew S. Ylitalo, Tiziana Di Luccio, Riccardo Miscioscia, Giovanni De Filippo, Giuseppe Pandolfi, Fulvia Villani, Alla Zak, Gary H. Menary, Alex B. Lennon, Julia A. Kornfield (2021) Interaction of Poly L-Lactide and Tungsten Disulfide Nanotubes Studied by in Situ X-ray Scattering during Expansion of PLLA/WS2NT Nanocomposite Tubes. Polymers 2021, Volume 13, 1764.

Abstract: In situ synchrotron X-ray scattering was used to reveal the transient microstructure of poly(L-lactide) (PLLA)/tungsten disulfide inorganic nanotubes (WS2NTs) nanocomposites. This microstructure is formed during the blow molding process (“tube expansion”) of an extruded polymer tube, an important step in the manufacturing of PLLA-based bioresorbable vascular scaffolds (BVS). A fundamental understanding of how such a microstructure develops during processing is relevant to two unmet needs in PLLA-based BVS: increasing strength to enable thinner devices and improving radiopacity to enable imaging during implantation. Here, we focus on how the flow generated during tube expansion affects the orientation of the WS2NTs and the formation of polymer crystals by comparing neat PLLA and nanocomposite tubes under different expansion conditions. Surprisingly, the WS2NTs remain oriented along the extrusion direction despite significant strain in the transverse direction while the PLLA crystals (c-axis) form along the circumferential direction of the tube. Although WS2NTs promote the nucleation of PLLA crystals in nanocomposite tubes, crystallization proceeds with largely the same orientation as in neat PLLA tubes. We suggest that the reason for the unusual independence of the orientations of the nanotubes and polymer crystals stems from the favorable interaction between PLLA and WS2NTs. This favorable interaction leads WS2NTs to disperse well in PLLA and strongly orient along the axis of the PLLA tube during extrusion. As a consequence, the nanotubes are aligned orthogonally to the circumferential stretching direction, which appears to decouple the orientations of PLLA crystals and WS2NTs.

2. Muzi Li, Felix Benn, Thomas Derra, Nadja Kröger, Max Zinser, Ralf Smeets, Jon M. Molina-Aldareguia, Alexander Kopp, Javier LLorca (2021) Microstructure, mechanical properties, corrosion resistance and cytocompatibility of WE43 Mg alloy scaffolds fabricated by laser powder bed fusion for biomedical applications. Materials Science and Engineering: C, Volume 119, 111623.

Abstract: Open-porous scaffolds of WE43 Mg alloy with a body-center cubic cell pattern were manufactured by laser powder bed fusion with different strut diameters. The geometry of the unit cells was adequately reproduced during additive manufacturing and the porosity within the struts was minimized. The microstructure of the scaffolds was modified by means of thermal solution and ageing heat treatments and was analysed in detail by means of X-ray microtomography, optical, scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Moreover, the corrosion rates and the mechanical properties of the scaffolds were measured as a function of the strut diameter and metallurgical condition. The microstructure of the as-printed scaffolds contained a mixture of Y-rich oxide particles and Rare Earth-rich intermetallic precipitates. The latter could be modified by heat treatments. The lowest corrosion rates of 2–3 mm/year were found in the as-printed and solution treated scaffolds and they could be reduced to ~0.1 mm/year by surface treatments using plasma electrolytic oxidation. The mechanical properties of the scaffolds improved with the strut diameter: the yield strength increased from 8 to 40 MPa and the elastic modulus improved from 0.2 to 0.8 GPa when the strut diameter increased from 275 μm to 800 μm. Nevertheless, the strength of the scaffolds without plasma electrolytic oxidation treatment decreased rapidly when immersed in simulated body fluid. In vitro bicompatibility tests showed surface treatments by plasma electrolytic oxidation were necessary to ensure cell proliferation in scaffolds with high surface-to-volume ratio.

3. Felix Benn, Nadja Kröger, Max Zinser, Kerstin van Gaalen, Ted J. Vaughan, Ming Yan, Ralf Smeets, Eric Bibiza, Savko Malinov, Fraser Buchanan, Alexander Kopp (2021) Influence of surface condition on the degradation behaviour and biocompatibility of additively manufactured WE43. Materials Science and Engineering: C, Volume 124, 112016.

Abstract: The further development of future Magnesium based biodegradable implants must consider not only the freedom of design, but also comprise implant volume reduction, as both aspects are crucial for the development of higher functionalised implants, such as plate systems or scaffold grafts in bone replacement therapy. As conventional manufacturing methods such as turning and milling are often accompanied by limitations concerning implant design and functionality, the process of laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) specifically for Magnesium alloys was recently introduced. In addition, the control of the degradation rate remains a key aspect regarding biodegradable implants. Recent studies focusing on the degradation behaviour of additively manufactured Magnesium scaffolds disclosed additional intricacies when compared to conventionally manufactured Magnesium parts, as a notably larger surface area was exposed to the immersion medium and scaffold struts degraded non-uniformly. Moreover, chemical etching as post processing technique is applied to remove sintered powder particles from the surface, altering surface chemistry. In this study, cylindrical Magnesium specimens were manufactured by LPBF and surfaces were consecutively modified by phosphoric etching and machining. Degradation behaviour and biocompatibility were then investigated, revealing that etched samples exhibited the overall lowest degradation rates, but experienced large pit formation, while the reduction of surface roughness resulted in a delay of degradation.