Rights: The University of Waikato Published 9 April 2010 Download

Dr Michael Mucalo is a senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of Waikato. One of his research interests is in the bioceramics field, and in this video, Michael explains the meaning of terms commonly used in this field. He clarifies the difference in meaning between ‘bioceramic’ and ‘biomaterial’ as well as between ‘bioinert’ and ‘bioactive.

Point of interest
How is the bioceramic alumina, mentioned in the video, produced?

Courtesy of Morgan Technical Ceramics
Mike Baird
U.S.A Army


Bioceramics are materials which are made of alumina or hydroxyapatite, calcium phosphate, which are used in the body to replace a function like bone material or hips or knees, for instance. And biomaterials are a range of materials which are used in the body, and they can be anything.

The bioceramic part of a hip implant – an alumina ball – that is a hard material which is very durable and strong. Alumina contains aluminium and oxygen, and it forms a very stable compound, which is very chemically inert and is safe to use in the body.

And bioinert, it’s basically a material which does not form a chemical bond to natural bone tissue. What happens is that some sort of layer called a fibrous tissue layer forms between the implant and the natural bone tissue. Bioactive means the material forms a chemical bond directly to the tissue that it’s coming up against in the body.