Nano Surfaces Overview

The successful clinical application of a medical device depends on both the physical-mechanical properties of the material and the interaction of its surface with the biological environment. Proper design, synthesis, and fabrication of biomaterials can ensure that they have appropriate mechanical properties, durability, biocompatibility, and functionality.

    “PTG has a deep understanding for how various polymer structures affect performance in medical applications.”
 
While bulk and surface properties are the two major parameters that determine the performance of a biomaterial, they generally do not directly correlate with each other. An optimized bulk structure does not automatically equate to desirable surface composition and morphology. The bulk properties of polymeric biomaterials are governed by the structural parameters ranging from chemical composition and chain structure to the physical morphology of the condensed state.

Because all surfaces try to reduce interfacial free energy, the equilibrium surface chemical composition of polymers is almost always different from the underlying average bulk composition. The kinetics of equilibration of the polymer surface depends on the temperature, interacting environment and segmental mobility of polymer chains.

Most synthetic polymers currently used as biomaterials were developed for their bulk properties and processability with little or no consideration of the surface properties important to biomedical applications. This has led to the widespread use of surface treatments and topical coatings applied to medical devices after component fabrication.

These efforts include changing the hydrophobic/hydrophilic properties of the surface, surface grafting, and immobilization of species of particular interest such as heparin or polyethylene oxide (PEO) onto base polymers. While these post-fabrication surface treatments have, to some extent, improved the biocompatibility of devices, there is an attendant increase in cost associated with the additional processing steps and post processing steps have the potential to compromise the bulk physical properties.

PTG engineers surface properties during the bulk synthesis of our biomaterials. That is, our polymer will demonstrate a specific surface chemistry that is very different from the bulk polymer chemistry. This level of surface engineering can only occur while using extremely surface specific analytical techniques.

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