Electron-beam treatment of poly(lactic acid) to control degradation profiles

Marie-Louise Cairns*, Glenn Dickson, John F. Orr, David Farrar, Klaus Hawkins, Fraser Buchanan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
545 Downloads (Pure)


Bioresorbable polymers such as polylactide (PIA) and polylactide-co-glycolide (PLGA) have been used successfully as biomaterials in a wide range of medical applications. However, their slow degradation rates and propensity to lose strength before mass have caused problems. A central challenge for the development of these materials is the assurance of consistent and predictable in vivo degradation. Previous work has illustrated the potential to influence polymer degradation using electron beam (e-beam) radiation. The work addressed in this paper investigates further the utilisation of e-beam radiation in order to achieve a more surface specific effect. Variation of e-beam energy was studied as a means to control the effective penetrative depth in poly-L-lactide (PLEA). PLEA samples were exposed to e-beam radiation at individual energies of 0.5 MeV, 0.75 MeV and 1.5 MeV. The near-surface region of the PLEA samples was shown to be affected by e-beam irradiation with induced changes in molecular weight, morphology, flexural strength and degradation profile. Moreover, the depth to which the physical properties of the polymer were affected is dependent on the beam energy used. Computer modelling of the transmission of each e-beam energy level used corresponded well with these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-83
JournalPolymer Degradation and Stability
Issue number1
Early online date02 Nov 2010
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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