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Novel Alkali Activation of Titanium Substrates To Grow Thick and Covalently Bound PMMA Layers

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journal contribution
posted on 17.01.2018, 00:00 authored by Melania Reggente, Patrick Masson, Camille Dollinger, Heinz Palkowski, Spyridon Zafeiratos, Leandro Jacomine, Daniele Passeri, Marco Rossi, Nihal Engin Vrana, Geneviève Pourroy, Adele Carradò
Titanium (Ti) is the most widely used metal in biomedical applications because of its biocompatibility; however, the significant difference in the mechanical properties between Ti and the surrounding tissues results in stress shielding which is detrimental for load-bearing tissues. In the current study, to attenuate the stress shielding effect, a new processing route was developed. It aimed at growing thick poly­(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) layers grafted on Ti substrates to incorporate a polymer component on Ti implants. However, the currently available methods do not allow the development of thick polymeric layers, reducing significantly their potential uses. The proposed route consists of an alkali activation of Ti substrates followed by a surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization using a phosphonic acid derivative as a coupling agent and a polymerization initiator and malononitrile as a polymerization activator. The average thickness of the grown PMMA layers is approximately 1.9 μm. The Ti activationperformed in a NaOH solutionleads to a porous sodium titanate interlayer with a hierarchical structure and an open microporosity. It promotes the covalent grafting reaction because of high hydroxyl groups’ content and enables establishing a further mechanical interlocking between the growing PMMA layer and the Ti substrate. As a result, the produced graduated structure possesses high Ti/PMMA adhesion strength (∼260 MPa). Moreover, the PMMA layer is (i) thicker compared to those obtained with the previously reported techniques (∼1.9 μm), (ii) stable in a simulated body fluid solution, and (iii) biocompatible. This strategy opens new opportunities toward hybrid prosthesis with adjustable mechanical properties with respect to host bone properties for personalized medicines.