Titanium is the leading material for artificial knee and hip joints because it's strong, wear-resistant, and nontoxic, but adding gold might make implants even better.
Because titanium and gold by themselves are among the most biocompatible metals and are often used in medical implants, the team believed titanium-3-gold would be comparable. They were surprised.
"It is about 3-4 times harder than most steels," says Emilia Morosan, the lead scientist of a new study in Science Advances that describes the properties of a 3-to-1 mixture of titanium and gold with a specific atomic structure that imparts hardness. "It's four times harder than pure titanium, which is what's currently being used in most dental implants and replacement joints."
The researchers decided to do tests to determine exactly how hard the compound was, and while they were at it, they also decided to measure the hardness of the other compositions of titanium and gold that they had used as comparisons in a previous study.
What they didn't know at the time was that making titanium-3-gold at relatively high temperature produces an almost pure crystalline form of the beta version of the alloy--the crystal structure that's four times harder than titanium. This was much strong than making them at lower temperatures which produced a different structure.
In fact, tests determined that the new alloy was even more biocompatible than pure titanium. The story proved much the same for wear resistance: Titanium-3-gold also outperformed pure titanium.
Read about this at http://www.futurity.org/knees-hips-gold-titanium-1208232-2/ of the work of Emilia Morosan of Rice University.
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