All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Uday K Vaidya

Advisory Committee Members

Jack E Lemons

Haibin Ning

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Materials Engineering (MSMtE) School of Engineering


The metallic plates used in internal fracture fixation may have up to ten times the elastic modulus of normal bone tissue, causing stress shielding-induced osteopenia in healed bone that can lead to re-fracture after plate removal and prolonged and painful recovery. Thermoplastic polymer matrix composites reinforced with long carbon fiber are promising alternative materials for internal fixation plates because they may be produced with relative ease and be tailored to have specific mechanical properties, alleviating the stress shielding problem. Long carbon fiber-reinforced polyetheretherketone (LCF PEEK) plates were produced using the extrusion / compression molding process. Static flexural testing determined that LCF PEEK plates with rectangular cross-section had an average flexural modulus of 12 GPa, or 23% of the flexural modulus of a stainless steel plate. The LCF PEEK plates also experienced negligible (14.7%, 14.5%, and 16.7%) reductions in modulus after fatigue testing at applied moments of 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5 N*m, respectively, over 106 load cycles. Aging the plates in 0.9% NaCl solution for four and eight weeks caused 0.34% and 0.28% increases in plate mass, respectively. No significant decrease of flexural properties due to aging was detected. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) revealed the PEEK matrix of the plates to be 24.5% crystalline, which is lower than typical PEEK crystallinity values of 30-35%. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed three times as many fiber pullout areas in LCF PEEK fracture surfaces as in fracture surfaces of long carbon fiber-reinforced polyphenylenesulfide (LCF PPS), another plate material tested. DSC and SEM data suggest that improvements in processing conditions and fiber/matrix bonding, along with higher carbon fiber fractions, would enhance LCF PEEK plate performance. LCF PEEK remains a promising alternative to stainless steel for internal fixation plates.

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