Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Self-healing bone cement


Material scientists at the University of Jena have developed a bone replacement based on calcium phosphate cement and reinforced with carbon fibers. The fibers increase damage tolerance and ensure that cracks in the material repair themselves.

Our body is able to treat many injuries and wounds all by itself. Self-healing powers repair skin abrasions and enable bones to grow back together. However, doctors often have to lend a helping hand to repair bones after a fracture or due to a defect.

Prof. Dr Frank A. Müller, Chair of Colloids, Surfaces and Interfaces at Otto-Schott-Institut of Materials Research (OSIM) at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

Image: Anne Günther/FSU

Increasingly, bone replacement materials are being used, which partially or completely restore the form and function of the bone at the site of the damage.

To ensure that such implants do not have to be replaced or repaired through extensive surgery in the event of damage, they should themselves possess self-healing capabilities.

Material scientists at Friedrich Schiller University Jena have now developed a bone replacement material that minimises the extent of damage to it and at the same time repairs itself. They report on their research in the prominent research magazine “Scientific Reports”.

Minimally invasive use of calcium phosphate cement

The experts from Jena, who collaborated with colleagues from the University of Würzburg as part of the German Research Foundation’s priority research programme “Self-healing Materials”, concentrated on what is called calcium phosphate cement – a bone substitute that is already widely used in medicine.

On the one hand, the material stimulates bone formation and increases the ingrowth of blood vessels. On the other hand, it can be introduced into the body as a paste in a minimally invasive procedure. There, its malleability allows it to bind closely to the bone structure.

“Due to its high degree of brittleness, however, cracks form in the material when it is subjected to excessive load. These cracks can quickly widen, destabilise the implant and ultimately destroy it – similar to concrete on buildings,” explains Prof. Frank A. Müller from the University of Jena. “For this reason, calcium phosphate cement has so far mainly been used on bones that do not play a load-bearing role in the skeleton, for example in the mouth and jaw area.”

Bridging and refilling cracks

The material scientists in Jena have now developed a calcium phosphate cement in which any cracks do not develop into catastrophic damage. Instead, the material itself seals them. The reason for this is carbon fibres that have been added to the material.

“Firstly, these fibres significantly increase the damage tolerance of the cement, because they bridge cracks as they form and thus prevent them from opening further,” Müller explains. “Secondly, we have chemically activated the surface of the fibres. This means that as soon as the exposed fibres encounter body fluid, which collects in the openings created by the cracks, a mineralisation process is initiated. The resulting apatite – a fundamental building block of bone tissue – then closes the crack again.”

The Jena scientists have simulated this process in their experiments by deliberately damaging the calcium phosphate cement and healing it in simulated body fluid. This intrinsic self-healing ability – and the greater load-bearing capacity associated with fibre reinforcement – could considerably expand the areas in which bone implants made of calcium phosphate cement can be used, which could possibly also include load-bearing areas of the skeleton in the future.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Frank A. Müller
Otto Schott Institute of Materials Research
Löbdergraben 32, 07743 Jena, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)3641 / 947750
E-mail: frank.mueller[at]


Anne V. Boehm, Susanne Meininger, Uwe Gbureck, Frank A. Mueller (2020): Self-healing capacity of fiber-reinforced calcium phosphate cements, Scientific Reports, DOI:

Sebastian Hollstein | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Looking at linkers helps to join the dots
10.07.2020 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

nachricht Goodbye Absorbers: High-Precision Laser Welding of Plastics
10.07.2020 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The spin state story: Observation of the quantum spin liquid state in novel material

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Latest News

X-ray scattering shines light on protein folding

10.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Looking at linkers helps to join the dots

10.07.2020 | Materials Sciences

Surprisingly many peculiar long introns found in brain genes

10.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>