Augmentation of acrylic bone cement with multiwall carbon nanotubes

Brock Marrs, Rodney Andrews, Terry Rantell, David Pienkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Acrylic bone cement, based on polymethyl-methacrylate (PMMA), is a proven polymer having important applications in medicine and dentistry, but this polymer continues to have less than ideal resistance to mechanical fatigue and impact. A variety of materials have been added to bone cement to augment its mechanical strength, but none of these augmentative materials has proven successful. Carbon nanotubes, a new hollow multiwalled tubular material 10-40 ran in diameter, 10-100 μm long, and 50-100 times the strength of steel at 1/6 the weight, have emerged as a viable augmentation candidate because of their large surface area to volume ratio. The objective of this study was to determine if the addition of multiwall carbon nanotubes to bone cement can alter its static or dynamic mechanical properties. Bar-shaped specimens made from six different (0-10% by weight) concentrations of multiwall carbon nanotubes were tested to failure in quasi-static 3-point bending and in 4-point bending fatigue (5 Hz). Analyses of variance and the 3-Parameter Weibull model were used to analyze the material performance data. The 2 wt % MWNT concentration enhanced flexural strength by 12.8% (p = 0.003) and produced a 13.1% enhancement in yield stress (p = 0.002). Bending modulus increased slightly with the smaller (<5 wt % MWNT) concentrations, but increased 24.1% (p < 0.001) in response to the 10 wt % loading. While the 2 wt % loading produced slightly improved quasi-static test results, it was associated with clearly superior fatigue performance (3.3 X increase in the Weibull mean fatigue life). Weibull minimum fatigue life (No), Weibull modulus (α), and characteristic fatigue life (β) for bone cement augmented with carbon nanotubes were enhanced versus that observed in the control group. These data unambiguously showed that the bone cement-MWNT polymer system has an enhanced fatigue life compared to "control" bone cement (no added nanotubes). It is concluded that specific multiwall carbon nanotube loadings can favorably improve the mechanical performance of bone cement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-276
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Arthroplasty
  • Bone cement
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Dental prostheses
  • Fatigue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys


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