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The properties of biomaterials are very impressive, and in many cases can be compared directly to those of man-made materials, such as in the use of wood for engineering applications, and the use of silk for making light, strong rope. This is all the more remarkable if we consider that biomaterials are entirely self-assembling and form at near ambient temperatures.

Biomaterials are ideally suited to the function that they perform, often aided by a complex hierarchical structure. In many cases this leads to high degrees of anisotropy in the structure and the resultant properties. A good example of this is seen in the structure of bone.

This TLP aims to show you how bone, specifically a human femur, is adapted to the body’s needs and its structural functions. It describes the biology of bone and also considers it as an engineering material.

The second part of the TLP looks at hip implants. Over 50,000 hip replacement operations are performed in the UK each year, and so continues to be a very important area of research and development. This TLP looks at why hip implants are necessary, what the potential problems are with these implants, and considers what properties are necessary for each individual component to arrive at suitable materials for the implant.

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