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Fixing bones with dissolvable glass

• Physics World
 

Bone fractures or breaks are routinely fixed in place with metal implants to encourage healing. These are usually made from corrosion-resistant steel or titanium, but have to be removed in a second operation once the bones have mended.

In an effort to make this extra surgery a thing of the past, materials scientists led by Jörg Löffler at ETH Zurich in Switzerland have designed a metallic glass that dissolves harmlessly in the body. The idea is to make small supporting objects from this material, such as pins or nails, which would disappear over time.

Strength without the bubbles

But the biggest challenge has been finding a suitable material. Requirements include strength, flexibility and durability, coupled

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