The interest in biodegradable polymer-matrix nanocomposites with bone regeneration potential has been increasing in recent years. In the present work, a solvothermal process is introduced to prepare hydroxyapatite (HA) nanorod-reinforced polycaprolactone in-situ. A non-aqueous polymer solution containing calcium and phosphorous precursors is prepared and processed in a closed autoclave at different temperatures in the range of 60–150 °C. Hydroxyapatite nanorods with varying aspect ratios are formed depending on the processing temperature. X-ray diffraction analysis and field-emission scanning electron microscopy indicate that the HA nanorods are semi-crystalline. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and Fourier transform infrared spectrometry determine that the ratio of calcium to phosphorous increases as the processing temperature increases. To evaluate the effect of in-situ processing on the mechanical properties of the nanocomposites, highly porous scaffolds (>90%) containing HA nanorods are prepared by employing freeze drying and salt leaching techniques. It is shown that the elastic modulus and strength of the nanocomposites prepared by the in-situ method is superior (∼15%) to those of the ex-situ samples (blended HA nanorods with the polymer solution). The enhanced bone regeneration potential of the nanocomposites is shown via an in vitro bioactivity assay in a saturated simulated body fluid. An improved cell viability and proliferation is also shown by employing (3-(4,5- dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide) (MTT) assay in human osteosarcoma cell lines. The prepared scaffolds with in vitro regeneration capacity could be potentially useful for orthopaedic applications and maxillofacial surgery.
- Mechanical property