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Impact of laser structuring on medical-grade titanium: Surface characterization and in vitro evaluation of osteoblast attachment

: Borcherding, Kai; Marx, Dennis; Gätjen, Linda; Specht, Uwe; Salz, Dirk; Thiel, Karsten; Wildemann, Britt; Grunwald, Ingo

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Materials 13 (2020), No.8, Art. 2000, 12 pp.
ISSN: 1996-1944
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IFAM ()
Osteointegration; titanium; surface; Laser; coating; orthopedics; dental implants

Improved implant osteointegration offers meaningful potential for orthopedic, spinal, and dental implants. In this study, a laser treatment was used for the structuring of a titanium alloy (Ti6Al4V) surface combined with a titanium dioxide coating, whereby a porous surface was created. The objective was to characterize the pore structure shape, treatment-related metallographic changes, cytocompatibility, and attachment of osteoblast-like cells (MG-63). The treatment generated specific bottleneck pore shapes, offering the potential for the interlocking of osteoblasts within undercuts in the implant surface. The pore dimensions were a bottleneck diameter of 27 µm (SD: 4 µm), an inner pore width of 78 µm (SD: 6 µm), and a pore depth of 129 µm (SD: 8 µm). The introduced energy of the laser changed the metallic structure of the alloy within the heat-affected region (approximately 66 µm) without any indication of a micro cracking formation. The phase of the alloy (microcrystalline alpha + beta) was changed to a martensite alpha phase in the surface region and an alpha + beta phase in the transition region between the pores. The MG-63 cells adhered to the structured titanium surface within 30 min and grew with numerous filopodia over and into the pores over the following days. Cell viability was improved on the structured surface compared to pure titanium, indicating good cytocompatibility. In particular, the demonstrated affinity of MG-63 cells to grow into the pores offers the potential to provide significantly improved implant fixation in further in vivo studies.