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Selective Crystal Growth Regulation by Chiral α‑Hydroxycarboxylic Acids Improves the Strength and Toughness of Calcium Sulfate Cements

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journal contribution
posted on 25.11.2020, 17:03 by Hanan Moussa, Wenge Jiang, Amir El Hadad, Ammar A. Alsheghri, Tayebeh Basiri, Doaa Taqi, Jun Song, Faleh Tamimi
Natural biominerals, such as bones and teeth, use acidic matrix biomolecules to control growth, morphology, and organization of the brittle hydroxyapatite crystals. This interplay provides biominerals with outstanding mechanical properties. Recently, we reported that the l-enantiomer of chiral tartaric acid has a potent regulatory effect on the crystal structure and mechanical performance of brushite cement, a mineral with a monoclinic crystal system. We hypothesized that this strategy could be applied using various chiral α-hydroxycarboxylic acids to enhance the mechanical performance of calcium sulfate dihydrate cements, another mineral belonging to the monoclinic crystal system. Calcium sulfate cements are widely used in dentistry, medicine, and construction, but these cements have low mechanical properties. In this work, we first determined the impact of different chiral α-hydroxycarboxylic acids on the properties of calcium sulfate cements. After that, we focused on identifying the regulation effect of chiral tartaric acid on gypsum crystals precipitated in a supersaturated solution. Here, we show that the selective effect of α-hydroxycarboxylic acid l-enantiomers on calcium sulfate crystals improved the mechanical performance of gypsum cements, while d-enantiomer had a weak impact. Compare to the calcium sulfate cements prepared without additives, the presence of l-enantiomer enhanced the compressive strength and the fracture toughness of gypsum cements by 40 and 70%, respectively. Thus, these results prove the generalizability of this approach and help us to fabricate high-strength cements.

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