A group of materials and biomedical engineers have found that a specialized mix of titanium and gold could support the development of hyper-strong prosthetics.
The researchers, led by Rice University physicist Emilia Morosan, found this new compound after studying a variety of titanium-gold combinations, reported Popular Mechanics.
The metal, named titanium-3-gold, is comprised of four parts pure titanium and one part pure gold, which emerged after both elements fused together at high-level temperatures through a process called arc melting.
Morosan’s partners in this experiment discovered some unique aspects regarding the metal’s dice-shaped cubic crystal structure. Electron microscopes revealed the compound had a gold atom residing in its center as well as one on each of the cube’s corners. Titanium atoms are scattered throughout the cube linked to a total of three gold atoms, according to Popular Mechanics.
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Essentially, titanium-3-gold is tightly-packed yielding a metal that can withstand significant amounts of wear and tear.
“It’s four times harder than pure titanium, which is what’s currently being used in most dental implants and replacement joints,” said Morosan in a statement.
Further cell cultures found the combination had a higher level of biocompatibility when compared to pure titanium meaning titanium-3 gold could be infused into prosthetics without risking damage to human tissue.
Safe, non-toxic, wear-resistant artificial joints could be on the horizon. Morosan and her colleagues will plan follow-up tests to continue exploring the crystal structure and see if chemical alterations could boost the compound’s durability.
The study was published in the journal Science Advances.