An advanced materials characterisation methodology has been used to examine systematically a range of sol-gel glass materials of contemporary biomedical interest. High energy X-ray total diffraction, X-ray fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy, and isotope-enriched O-17 and P-31 MAS NMR have been used to study the local calcium environment in four sol-gel derived bioactive calcium silicate glasses of the general formula (CaO)(x)(SiO2)(1-x), and to gain an atomic scale insight into the nature of the processes initiated when this bioactive glass is immersed in vitro in simulated body fluid (SBF). The results reveal a rapid dissolution of the labile surface calcium ions from the glass within 30 min of immersion in SBF and the later formation of a hydroxyapatite like layer, which MAS NMR suggests is partially ordered locally, but which X-ray diffraction confirms as amorphous overall Annealing the samples at 650 degrees C allows this layer to crystallise, revealing the anticipated hydroxyapatite layer more clearly. The results presented here are consistent with, but greatly extend our previous XRD, Ca-43 and Si-29 MAS-NMR, XANES and EXAFS studies of these materials
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