MDPI, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(17), p. 4931, 2020
Purpose: Several studies showed that the sintering temperature of 1250 °C could affect the formation of α-Ca3(PO4)2, which is responsible for the reduction of the hardness value of biphasic calcium phosphate biocomposites, but they did not evaluate the inference of the sintering time at peak temperature on transition of β-Ca3(PO4)2 to α-Ca3(PO4)2. This analysis explored, in an innovative way, inferences and correlations between volumetric microstructure, mechanical properties, sintering temperature, and time at peak temperature in order to find the best sintering conditions for biphasic calcium phosphate composites grafted in severe alveolar bone defects. Methods: Sintered biphasic calcium phosphates (30%-hydroxyapatite/70%-tricalcium phosphate) were tested by microCT imaging for the 3D morphometric analysis, by compressive loading to find their mechanical parameters, and by X-ray diffraction to quantify the phases via Rietveld refinement for different sintering temperatures and times at the peak temperature. Data were analysed in terms of statistical inference using Pearson’s correlation coefficients. Results: All the studied scaffolds closely mimicked the alveolar organization of the jawbone, independently on the sintering temperatures and times; however, mechanical testing revealed that the group with peak temperature, which lasted for 2 hours at 1250 °C, showed the highest strength both at the ultimate point and at fracture point. Conclusion: The good mechanical performances of the group with peak temperature, which lasted for 2 hours at 1250 °C, is most likely due to the absence of the α-Ca3(PO4)2 phase, as revealed by X-ray diffraction. However, we detected its presence after sintering at the same peak temperature for longer times, showing the time-dependence, combined with the temperature-dependence, of the β-Ca3(PO4)2 to α-Ca3(PO4)2 transition.