This work evaluates the effect of carbon nanotube (CNT) addition to plasma-sprayed hydroxyapatite (HA) coating on its tribological behavior, biocompatibility of the coating, and cytotoxicity of CNT-containing wear debris. Biological response of the CNT-containing wear debris is critical for osteoblasts, the bone-forming cells, and macrophages, the cells that clear up wear debris from blood stream. The addition of 4 wt % CNTs to HA coating reduces the volume of wear debris generation by 80% because of the improved elastic modulus and fracture toughness. CNT reinforcement has a pronounced effect on the particle size in the wear debris and subsequent biological response. There was a slight increase in the numbers and viability of osteoblasts grown on HA-CNT compared with HA alone. The cytotoxic effect of HA and HA-CNT debris to macrophages and osteoblasts was similar, demonstrating that loose CNT does not pose a problem to these cells.
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