Mechanisms induced by transition metal contaminants and their effect on the hydrothermal stability of zirconia-containing bioceramics: an XPS study†
Zirconia containing bioceramics suffer from low temperature degradation in biological and hydrothermal environments, and the presence of transition metal contamination has been shown to greatly affect the zirconia stability in different materials. In this paper, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy was used to investigate the compositional and structural variations of different zirconia containing hip-joint bioceramics with and without transition metal stains in hydrothermal environments. Non-stained and stainless-steel-stained femoral head samples of 3 mol% Y2O3 doped tetragonal zirconia polycrystals (3Y-TZP) and zirconia-toughened alumina (ZTA) subjected to isothermal treatments in water vapor were investigated with quantifying their respective compositional XP lines. The outputs of these spectroscopic experiments revealed a significant difference in the off-stoichiometric reactions taking place at the surface of zirconia-containing ceramics in the presence and absence of transition metal contamination. The complex off-stoichiometric chemistry that occurred in the presence of metal contaminants could be interpreted in terms of defect-related chemical reactions among metal, water vapor, and oxide lattice, with a crucial contribution of the alumina phase in the transformation kinetics of ZTA.