The surface topography, the chemical composition and the hydroxylation state are the surface properties playing a key role in the first stage of the biocompatibility process, namely the adsorption of water and proteins on the implant surface. To understand the very different tissue response to titanium and vanadium, we have measured the above-mentioned surface properties on similarly prepared Ti and V electropolished samples. Scanning force microscopy shows granular and homogeneous surfaces in both Ti and V samples, but with roughness twice as small in the case of V and with a lateral grain size of the order of 20-30 nm for Ti and of 80-100 nm for V. The surface chemical composition is strongly affected by thermal treatments, as revealed by Auger electron spectroscopy. On electropolished Ti, the surface segregation of Cl (originating from the electropolishing bath) occurs at 720 K and is well described by a purely diffusive model, i.e. Fick's law. For the segregation of S on Ti at higher temperature, we have extracted the energy of segregation and observed a rather strong influence of sulphur diffusion depending on the presence of chlorine on the surface. Finally, thermal desorption spectroscopy measurements indicate that water is mainly dissociated on hydroxyl groups on both Ti and V; the large amount of detected water indicates that it is deeply trapped inside the sample and not only chemisorbed on its surface. © 1993.
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