Fracture micromechanisms of bioabsorbable PLLA/PCL polymer blends

M. Todo, S. D. Park, T. Takayama, K. Arakawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Poly(l-lactide) (PLLA) has actively been used as a biomaterial for resorbable bone fixation devices for use in orthopedic and oral surgeries. Recently, in order to improve the fracture properties of brittle PLLA, polymer blends of PLLA and a ductile bioabsorbable polymer, poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL), have been developed. The aim of the present study is to elucidate details of the fracture behavior and toughening mechanisms of PLLA/PCL blends. PLLA/PCL blends with different PCL contents were developed, and the critical energy release rate at crack initiation, Gin, was then measured to assess the effect of PCL content. It was shown that Gin is dramatically improved by blending PCL with PLLA, and the maximum 51% of increase of Gin is acheived with 5 wt% of PCL. Polarizing optical microscopy (POM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of crack growth behavior were also performed to characterize the fracture mechanism. PLLA/PCL showed multiple craze formation in the crack-tip region, and elongated fibrils and voids construct the crazes. SEM of fracture surface also indicated that stretched fibril structures are formed on the surface as a result of elongation of PCL spherulites under high tensile stress condition in the crack-tip region. Thus, these damage formations are considered to be the primary energy dissipation mechanisms that resulted in the improvement of fracture energy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1872-1883
Number of pages12
JournalEngineering Fracture Mechanics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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