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Chinese scientists discover new material for future medical implants

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BEIJING: A new breakthrough in material science could revolutionize medical implants. Scientists at Southeast University in China have developed a piezoelectric material that is not only highly effective but also biodegradable. This innovation surpasses previous biodegradable options by a factor of 13 in terms of piezoelectric performance.

Piezoelectric materials have the unique ability to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. This property makes them ideal for various medical implants, like pacemakers and drug delivery devices.

However, traditional options lack biodegradability, necessitating a second surgery for removal after serving their purpose. This additional procedure can be expensive and carries inherent surgical risks.

The newly developed material, the discovery of which was led by Zhang Hanyue and Professor Xiong Rengen, is a kind of ferroelectric molecular crystal. The crystal offers the remarkable combination of both piezoelectricity and biodegradability.

Notably, the material boasts a piezoelectric coefficient (d33) of approximately 138 picocoulombs per newton, a significant 13-fold increase compared to previous biodegradable materials.

Furthermore, the material is conveniently combined with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), granting it high flexibility and biocompatibility within the body. This translates to safe implantation that can eventually dissolve naturally, eliminating the need for removal surgery.

The researchers envision this innovative material being utilized in a diverse range of next-generation medical implants.

This research, published in the March 29 issue of Science magazine, represents a significant leap forward in the field of medical implants. Media outlets in China called the discovery a landmark breakthrough since the discovery of the piezoelectric effect by the Curie brothers in 1880.