Mechanical and structural characterisation of completely degradable polylactic acid/calcium phosphate glass scaffolds
This study involves the mechanical and structural characterisation of completely degradable scaffolds for tissue engineering applications. The scaffolds are a composite of polylactic acid (PLA) and a soluble calcium phosphate glass, and are thus completely degradable. A factorial experimental design was applied to optimise scaffold composition prior to simultaneous microtomography and micromechanical testing. Synchrotron X-ray microtomography combined with in situ micromechanical testing was performed to obtain three-dimensional (3D) images of the scaffolds under compression. The 3D reconstruction was converted into a finite element mesh which was validated by simulating a compression test and comparing it with experimental results. The experimental design reveals that larger glass particle and pore sizes reduce the stiffness of the scaffolds, and that the porosity is largely unaffected by changes in pore sizes or glass weight content. The porosity ranges between 93% and 96.5%, and the stiffness ranges between 50 and 200 kPa. X-ray projections show a homogeneous distribution of the glass particles within the PLA matrix, and illustrate pore-wall breakage under strain. The 3D reconstructions are used qualitatively to visualise the distribution of the phases of the composite material, and to follow pore deformation under compression. Quantitatively, scaffold porosity, pore interconnectivity and surface/volume ratios have been calculated. Finite element analysis revealed the stress and strain distribution in the scaffold under compression, and could be used in the future to characterise the mechanical properties of the scaffolds.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 28, Issue 30, October 2007, Pages 4429–4438