Extraordinary high strength Ti-Zr-Ta alloys through nanoscaled, dual-cubic spinodal reinforcement

Arne Biesiekierski, Dehai Ping, Yuncang Li, Jixing Lin, Khurram S. Munir, Yoko Yamabe-Mitarai, Cuie Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


While titanium alloys represent the current state-of-the-art for orthopedic biomaterials, concerns still remain over their modulus. Circumventing this via increased porosity requires high elastic admissible strains, yet also limits traditional thermomechanical strengthening techniques. To this end, a novel β-type Ti-Zr-Ta alloy system, comprised of Ti-45Zr-10Ta, Ti-40Zr-14Ta, Ti-35Zr-18Ta and Ti-30Zr-22Ta, was designed and characterized mechanically and microstructurally. As-cast, this system displayed extremely high yield strengths and elastic admissible strains, up to 1.4 GPa and potentially 1.48%, respectively. This strength was attributed to a nanoscaled, cuboidal structure of semi-coherent, dual body-centered cubic (BCC) phases, arising from the thermodynamics of interaction between Ta and Zr; this morphology occurring with dual BCC-phases is heretofore unreported in Ti-based alloys. Further, cell proliferation investigated by MTS assay suggests this was achieved without sacrificing biocompatibility, with no significant difference to either empty-well or commercially-pure Ti controls noted. Statement of Significance The current research details microstructural, mechanical, and biological investigations into four novel biomedical alloys in a hitherto uninvestigated region of the Ti-Zr-Ta alloy system; Ti-45Zr-10Ta, Ti-40Zr-14Ta, Ti-35Zr-18Ta and Ti-30Zr-22Ta. We find that the investigated alloys display 0.2% yield strengths of up to 1.40 GPa and elastic admissible strains of up to 1.48%, along with biological properties comparable to that seen in the conventional metallic biomaterial ASTM Grade-2 CP-Ti, achieved in the complete absence of traditional thermomechanical processing techniques. This is attributed to the presence of a dual-BCC cuboidal nanostructure, achieved via spinodal decomposition; while similar structures have been reported in e.g. Ni-based superalloys, we believe this is the first such structure investigated in a Ti-based material. As such, this work is felt to be of great interest in aiding the design and manufacture of highly-biocompatible, porous, metallic biomaterials for orthopedic application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-558
Number of pages10
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 15
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomedical
  • Nano-structure
  • Spinodal decomposition
  • Titanium alloy
  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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