Silicon Nitride Bioceramics in Healthcare


Silicon nitride (Si3N4) is biocompatible and stable in vivo, and these properties, when combined with its superior mechanical properties, make Si3N4 an attractive ceramic implant material in some healthcare applications, particularly in orthopedic surgery. Si3N4 is used in spinal fusion surgery, is under development for use as bearings in joint replacement, and is being considered for use as dental implants. While Si3N4 implants are currently created using conventional ceramic processing techniques, additive manufacturing provides the capacity to create custom implants with the required anatomical shape, precise dimensions, and well-controlled microstructure. Si3N4 can be created with a smooth or microrough surface topography, and its surface chemistry can be varied from a silica-rich to a predominantly silicon-amine composition, which can influence the response of cells, tissues, and bacteria in vivo. Si3N4 implants have shown attractive osseointegration and antimicrobial activity in vivo, while Si3N4 bearings have shown low wear rates when articulating against itself or against polyethylene. The objective of this article is to review recent developments in the design, processing, and evaluation of Si3N4 implants for healthcare applications.


Materials Science and Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Antimicrobial Activity; In Vivo Evaluation; Silicon Nitride Bioceramics; Spinal Fusion; Surface Modification; Total Joint Replacement

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1546-542X; 1744-7402

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2017 American Ceramic Society, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2018