@williamlweaver: Actually, as Ann's article points out, the polyurethane is pyrolized before the CVD is carried out, so the tantalum is deposited on a carbon substrate. The resulting structure is said to be 99% tantalum and 1% carbon by weight.
I waited but it wasn't until the end they used the word "nano." I think this is key. To incorporate this material into the body permanently, it would seem that the merging of metal an tissue couldn't be on a surface only. It needs to be throughout the device just as the normal body parts are. Clever lads!
I hope this method also finds its way to other areas- broken bones, hips, etc. What a great idea!
Wow. The fact that the application is for spine implants is impressive enough, but I'm impressed by the manufacturing process. Using a polymer substrate as a vapor deposition mold is awesome. --- Sort of like metal-infused ceramic, cermet, but with a polymer substrate - a "polymet" if you will. As we continue to see a miniaturization of electronics components, perhaps bio-compatible materials such as this will benefit from an increasing availability of tantalum...
Perfect timing for the aging baby boomer generation which wants to stay active and fit, and is thus a regular fixture at the orthopedist. This type of implant seems like it could do wonders for the all hip replacements, knee replacements and other rites of passage this generation seems to be encountering given their commitment to staying youthful.
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