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Titanium-gold alloy could lead to super-strong implants

It's four times stronger than pure titanium, but safe for your body.
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MonstArrr_ via Getty Images

Many bone implants (such as for hips and teeth) need to be replaced after a decade simply because they're not strong enough to survive for any longer. Rice University might put an end to those regular surgeries, though. Its researchers have crafted a titanium-gold alloy that's the strongest ever to be friendly to organic tissue -- four times stronger than pure titanium, and so strong that the team had trouble grinding it into a powder to check its purity. They created it by preparing titanium-3-gold (that is, three parts titanium for every one part of gold) at a high temperature, forming an extremely sturdy crystal structure.

The full potential of the alloy isn't clear (the lab actually specializes in electrical and magnetic properties, not resilience). Scientists already see it being extremely useful for implants, however, as it's even gentler on the body than pure titanium. It could be stronger, too, as it's possible that chemical doping will make it that much harder. The discovery won't necessarily eliminate the need for replacement implants, but anything that cuts the number of trips to the hospital is bound to be helpful.

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