Investigating elastic relaxation effects on the optical properties of functionalised calcium carbonate compacts using optics-based Heckel analysis

Prince Bawuah, Anssi Pekka Karttunen, Daniel Markl, Cathy Ridgway, Ossi Korhonen, Patrick Gane, J. Axel Zeitler, Jarkko Ketolainen, Kai Erik Peiponen

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Heckel analysis is a widely used method for the characterisation of the compression behaviour of pharmaceutical samples during the preparation of solid dosage formulations. The present study introduces an optical version of the Heckel equation that is based on a combination of the conventional Heckel equation together with the linear relationship defined between the effective terahertz (THz) refractive index and the porosity of pharmaceutical tablets. The proposed optical Heckel equation allows us to, firstly, calculate the zero-porosity refractive index, and, secondly, predict the in-die development of the effective refractive index as a function of the compressive pressure during tablet compression. This was demonstrated for five batches of highly porous functionalised calcium carbonate (FCC) excipient compacts. The close match observed between the estimated in-die effective refractive index and the measured/out-of-die effective THz refractive index supports the validity of the proposed form of the equation. By comparing the measured and estimated in-die tablet properties, a clear change in the porosity and hence, the effective refractive index, due to post-compression elastic relaxation of the FCC compacts, has been observed. We have, therefore, proposed a THz-based compaction setup that will permit in-line monitoring of processes during tablet compression. We envisage that this new approach in tracking powder properties introduced in this preliminary study will lead to the onset of further extensive and detailed future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-284
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number1
Early online date22 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2018


  • elastic relaxation
  • Heckel law
  • pharmaceutical tablet
  • porosity
  • terahertz refractive index

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