Advances in the development of biomedical devices require new materials which, besides satisfying the physical requirements of their application, are compatible with the biological environment in which they are employed. It is of paramount importance that materials not only possess bulk properties that enable them to meet structural requirements of an implant, but since bio-compatibility involves the interface between a material and the biological environment, it is also critical that the surface properties are designed so there are no chronic inflammatory or adverse responses to the material. Thus the ability to tailor and characterise the surface properties of new bio-materials is, along with gaining an improved understanding of the interfacial phenomena occurring at the surface, key to improving their properties and developing new improved materials.
Surface modification offers an effective means of altering the performance of a material without the need for the development of entirely new systems. Currently we are studying plasma processing methodologies for surface modification of polymeric materials. Plasma surface modification involves exposure of the material to a discharge of reactive gas molecules which are generally ionized or excited species capable of changing the surface functionality of the material.
Polyurethane is a material commonly used in biomedical applications. In conjunction with XPS we are able to identify the surface composition of these materials.
A significant change in the surface functional groups is observed by XPS following treatment of the polyurethane film with the N2 plasma. This is attributed to a combination of bond cleavage processes and N (as NH2) incorporation in the surface layer.By carefully tuning the plasma treatment conditions we aim to control the wetting, adhesive properties and chemical functionality of the surface.
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