New alloy promises reduced stiffness in orthopaedic implants

Magdalen Hui Ching Tan, the first student in Flinders’ new course Master of Engineering (Materials), has helped develop a new alloy that will provide significant benefits for the medical products industry.

While achieving excellent grades in her topics since commencing the course in 2017, she became interested in doing research on biomaterials for her masters thesis under the supervision of Dr Reza Oskouei at the College of Science and Engineering.

Through this research, Magdalen has successfully designed and developed a new titanium-niobium-zirconium alloy with tailored mechanical properties.

She achieved significantly reduced stiffness in this new alloy – about 50% less than titanium alloys currently used for implants.

“There is a need to develop new generation titanium alloys for orthopaedic implants with reduced levels of stiffness that are closer to that of the bone,” says Dr Reza Oskouei.

“This can minimise the stress shielding effect and implant loosening when both the implant and surrounding bones are under the mechanical loads of physical activities. This will enhance implant longevity and reduce revision surgeries.”

The development is part of a collaborative project with Associate Professor Reza Ghomashchi, from the University of Adelaide, and Associate Professor Wenlong Xiao, from Beihang University in China.

Magdalen and the team are now in the process of publishing their findings in a top peer-reviewed journal in this field.

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