Date of Award

Winter 3-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Molecular Science and Nanotechnology

First Advisor

David K. Mills


Thermoplastics can be used as a replacement or alternative for a variety of medical and commercial products. The addition of halloysite nanotubes further enhance the strength and functionality of the composite. The aim of this project was to evaluate the capability polylactic acid (PLA) to be enhance with halloysite nanotubes and other additives. We created a nanocomposite that offered similar stabilization to titanium surgical plates but with the added benefit of bone generation through recruitment and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells. Varying amounts of PLA and polycaprolactone were combined with growth factor doped halloysite nanotubes or silicon nitrate then extruded into 3D printer filament. Once 3D printed from the custom filament, the nanocomposite was subjected to mechanical and cell culture testing. Human mesenchymal stem cells were exposed to the 3D printed nanocomposites and monitored for osteogenic differentiation.

Additionally, metalized halloysite nanotubes (mHNTs) were added to PLA to make an antibacterial 3D printer filament. Testing of both gentamicin loaded and unloaded mHNTs embedded PLA nanocomposites was conducted on E. coli and S. aureus. The PLA-mHNT filament was used to make a 3D printed antibacterial mask. Blow-spun fibers made of PLA and mHNTs were used as the filter component, which was added to the antibacterial mask to make an antibacterial respirator.