Visualising phase change in a brushite-based calcium phosphate ceramic

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The resorption of brushite-based bone cements has been shown to be highly unpredictable, with strong dependence on a number of conditions. One of the major factors is phase transformation, with change to more stable phases such as hydroxyapatite affecting the rate of resorption. Despite its importance, the analysis of phase transformation has been largely undertaken using methods that only detect crystalline composition and give no information on the spatial distribution of the phases. In this study confocal Raman microscopy was used to map cross-sections of brushite cylinders aged in Phosphate Buffered Saline, Foetal Bovine Serum, Dulbecco’s – Minimum Essential Medium (with and without serum). Image maps showed the importance of ageing medium on the phase composition throughout the ceramic structure. When aged without serum, there was dissolution of the brushite phase concomitant to the deposition of octacalcium phosphate (OCP) around the periphery of the sample. The deposition of OCP was detectable within five days and reduced the rate of brushite dissolution from the material. The use of serum, even at a concentration of 10vol% prevented phase transformation. This paper demonstrates the value of confocal Raman microscopy in monitoring phase change in biocements; it also demonstrates the problems with assessing material degradation in non-serum containing media.


Original languageEnglish
Article number32671
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date8 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2016


  • Biomedical Imaging, Biomineralisation