A structural investigation of the alkali metal site distribution within bioactive glass using neutron diffraction and multinuclear solid state NMR
The atomic-scale structure of Bioglass and the effect of substituting lithium for sodium within these glasses have been investigated using neutron diffraction and solid state magic angle spinning (MAS) NMR. Applying an effective isomorphic substitution difference function to the neutron diffraction data has enabled the Na–O and Li–O nearest-neighbour correlations to be isolated from the overlapping Ca–O, O–(P)–O and O–(Si)–O correlations. These results reveal that Na and Li behave in a similar manner within the glassy matrix and do not disrupt the short range order of the network former. Residual differences are attributed solely to the variation in ionic radius between the two species. Successful simplification of the 2 < r (Å) < 3 region via the difference method has enabled all the nearest neighbour correlations to be deconvolved. The diffraction data provides the first direct experimental evidence of split Na–O nearest-neighbour correlations in these melt quench bioactive glasses, and an analogous splitting of the Li–O correlations. The observed correlations are attributed to the metal ions bonded either to bridging or to non-bridging oxygen atoms. 23Na triple quantum MAS (3QMAS) NMR data corroborates the split Na–O correlations. The structural sites present will be intimately related to the release properties of the glass system in physiological fluids such as plasma and saliva, and hence to the bioactivity of the material. Detailed structural knowledge is therefore a prerequisite for optimizing material design.