Anna C. Samia, an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University, has begun imbedding magnetic nanoparticles in tough plastics to understand why more than 40,000 Americans have to replace their hip and knee replacement each year. Samia was awarded a 5-year $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation-CAREER to create new materials and equipment to test ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene used in the making of artificial joints.
Samia and her research team will also develop magnetic particle imaging techniques to monitor both wear and degradation.
Preliminary research by Samia shows that too many nanoparticles weaken the properties of the implant plastic, so she will attempt to turn the composition, size, form, and nanoparticle structure to develop stronger magnetic polymer composite materials. The research team will develop techniques to take images while the imbedded plastic is in a bath of biological fluids, acids, and hydrogen peroxide, as well as devise equipment to mimic the mechanical stresses.
Essentially, the images and analysis will show when plastic fragments and nanoparticles are cut free and under which conditions, in addition to track where they migrate. The news report states that the ultimate goal is to give "manufacturers targets they can hone in on to make the implant material more resistant to the environment inside us, so that implants last a lifetime."
Source: Case Western Reserve University