This study proposes boron nitride nanotube (BNNT) reinforced hydroxyapatite (HA) as a novel composite material for orthopedic implant applications. The spark plasma sintered (SPS) composite structure shows higher density compared to HA. Minimal lattice mismatch between HA and BNNT leads to coherent bonding and strong interface. HA-4 wt% BNNT composite offers excellent mechanical properties-120% increment in elastic modulus, 129% higher hardness and 86% more fracture toughness, as compared to HA. Improvements in the hardness and fracture toughness are related to grain refinement and crack bridging by BNNTs. HA-BNNT composite also shows 75% improvement in the wear resistance. The wear morphology suggests localized plastic deformation supported by the sliding of outer walls of BNNT. Osteoblast proliferation and cell viability show no adverse effect of BNNT addition. HA-BNNT composite is, thus, envisioned as a potential material for stronger orthopedic implants.
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