Elastic properties and strain-to-crack-initiation of calcium phosphate bone cements: Revelations of a high-resolution measurement technique.

Ingrid Ajaxon, Alice Acciaioli, Giacomo Lionello, Maria Pau Ginebra, Caroline Öhman-Mägi, Massimiliano Baleani, Cecilia Persson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Calcium phosphate cements (CPCs) should ideally have mechanical properties similar to those of the bone tissue the material is used to replace or repair. Usually, the compressive strength of the CPCs is reported and, more rarely, the elastic modulus. Conversely, scarce or no data are available on Poisson's ratio and strain-to-crack-initiation. This is unfortunate, as data on the elastic response is key to, e.g., numerical model accuracy. In this study, the compressive behaviour of brushite, monetite and apatite cements was fully characterised. Measurement of the surface strains was done using a digital image correlation (DIC) technique, and compared to results obtained with the commonly used built-in displacement measurement of the materials testers. The collected data showed that the use of fixed compression platens, as opposed to spherically seated ones, may in some cases underestimate the compressive strength by up to 40%. Also, the built-in measurements may underestimate the elastic modulus by up to 62% as compared to DIC measurements. Using DIC, the brushite cement was found to be much stiffer (24.3 ± 2.3GPa) than the apatite (13.5 ± 1.6GPa) and monetite (7.1 ± 1.0GPa) cements, and elastic moduli were inversely related to the porosity of the materials. Poisson's ratio was determined to be 0.26 ± 0.02 for brushite, 0.21 ± 0.02 for apatite and 0.20 ± 0.03 for monetite. All investigated CPCs showed low strain-to-crack-initiation (0.17-0.19%). In summary, the elastic modulus of CPCs is substantially higher than previously reported and it is concluded that an accurate procedure is a prerequisite in order to properly compare the mechanical properties of different CPC formulations. It is recommended to use spherically seated platens and measuring the strain at a relevant resolution and on the specimen surface.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-437
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Apatite
  • Bone cement
  • Brushite
  • Calcium phosphate
  • Elastic modulus
  • Mechanical properties
  • Monetite
  • Poisson's ratio


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