Design of a nitrogen-implanted titanium-based superelastic alloy with optimized properties for biomedical applications


In this study, a superelastic Ni-free Ti-based biomedical alloy was treated in surface by implantation of nitrogen ions for the first time. The N-implanted surface was characterized by X-ray diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, secondary ion mass spectroscopy, and the superficial mechanical properties were evaluated by nano-indentation and by ball-on-disk tribological tests. To investigate the biocompatibility, the corrosion resistance of the N-implanted Ti alloy was evaluated in simulated body fluids (SBF) complemented by in-vitro cytocompatibility tests on human fetal osteoblasts. After implantation, surface analysis methods revealed the formation of a titanium-based nitride on the substrate surface. Consequently, an increase in superficial hardness and a significant reduction of friction coefficient were observed compared to the non-implanted sample. Also, a better corrosion resistance and a significant decrease in ion release rates have been obtained. Cell culture experiments indicated that the cytocompatibility of the N-implanted Ti alloy was superior to that of the corresponding non treated sample. Thus, this new functional N-implanted titanium-based superelastic alloy presents the optimized properties that are required for various medical devices: superelasticity, high superficial mechanical properties, high corrosion resistance and excellent cytocompatibility.
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