2, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Erlangen, , Germany
The ability to convert an electrical field into a mechanical perturbation and vice versa makes piezoelectric materials fundamentally interesting objects of study as well as versatile components for industrial applications. Piezoelectric materials can serve as sensors and actuators in a range of fields covering vibration control in airplanes, ultrasound applications in marine and medical devices or pickups for musical instruments.
In recent years, the value of piezoelectric materials for biomedical applications, as for nerve and bone tissue repair, in-vivo sensors or energy harvesting components, has been unfolding. Depending on the specific application, biocompatibility and stable performance in the presence of body fluids are crucial factors determining a materials potential for the task. In some cases, it is even necessary that the living cells form a close interface with the implanted material. A piezoelectric implant that provides large, open pores allowing the ingrowth of cells and the formation of a living structure within the artificial pores can be of advantage in such cases.
In the present study, we investigate the potential of porous barium titanate-based piezoelectric ceramics for biomedical applications.
To study the biocompatibility of our ceramic materials, cell tests using human endothelial as well as osteoblast cells were conducted. Both cell types showed better viability and proliferation on the piezoelectric ceramics compared to a control group.
Porous piezoelectric ceramics were produced using the sacrificial template method. Different pore formers were employed to create pores of varying size and shape. The presence of porosity leads to a reduction of the piezoelectric performance, with the pore morphology playing a crucial role in the change of properties.
Both dense and porous samples were soaked in saline solution to mimic in-vivo conditions and the change in piezoelectric properties was recorded over the course of two weeks. The soaking procedure had only minor influence on the characteristics, highlighting the potential of barium titanate-based ceramics to be used as durable implant materials.