Chemistry, Department of


Date of this Version



A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Chemistry, Under the Supervision of Professor Jody G. Redepenning. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Kristopher Robert Hiebner


Autografts are the orthopedic “gold standard” for repairing bone voids. Autografts are osteoconductive and do not elicit an immune response, but they are in short supply and require a second surgery to harvest the bone graft. Allografts are currently the most common materials used for the repair of segmental defects in hard tissue. Unlike autografts, allografts can cause an undesirable immune response and the possibility of disease transmission is a major concern. As an alternative to the above approaches, recent research efforts have focused on the use of composite materials made from hydroxyapatite (HA) and bioresorbable polymers, such as poly-L-lactide (PLLA). Recent results have shown that the surface hydroxides on HA can initiate the ring opening polymerization (ROP) of L-lactide and other lactones creating a composite with superior interfacial strength.

This thesis demonstrates that the surface of porous biologically derived HA substrates, such as coralline HA and trabecular bone, can be used to initiate the ROP of L-lactide and other lactones from the vapor phase. This process increases the strength of the porous scaffold through the deposition of a thin, uniform polymer coating, while maintaining the porous structure. The kinetics of the chemical vapor deposition polymerization (CVDP) are described using a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM). The reaction temperature and monomer vapor pressure are found to affect the rate of the polymerization. Also described in this thesis is the preparation of a porous polymer scaffold that mimics the structure of demineralized bone matrix (DBM). This demineralized bone matrix simulant (DBMS) is created using anorganic bovine bone as a template to initiate the polymerization of various lactones, followed by the removal of the HA scaffold. This material retained its shape and exhibits mechanical properties superior to DBM. Finally it is shown that HA can be used to initiate the ROP of ε-caprolactam and the biocompatibility of various HA/bioresorbable polymer composites are described through the use of cell cultures run in collaboration with a research group specializing in immunology.

Advisor: Jody G. Redepenning