Three-dimensional structure of laser-modified Ti6Al4V and bone interface revealed with STEM tomography
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The early interaction between an implant's surface and bone is a leading factor for implant success, where multiple surface properties contribute to improved bone anchorage. An important parameter is surface topography, both on the micron and nanoscale. Laser-modification has been performed in the thread valleys of Ti6Al4V screws to alter their surface chemistry and topography to form a nanostructured surface titanium-dioxide. Implants were placed in the rabbit tibia, removed with surrounding bone after 8 weeks, fixated, dried and resin embedded. Focused ion beam milling (FIB) was used to prepare specimens from the resin blocks for transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Z-contrast electron tomography offered the possibility to explore the interfacial structure with high-resolution in three-dimensions. With this technique, collagen fibers of the surrounding bone appear to have been laid down parallel to the implant surface. Accordingly, visualization of the laser-modified interface with nanoscale three-dimensional resolution, as offered by Z-contrast electron tomography, gives new insights into bone bonding mechanisms between roughened titanium-dioxide surfaces and bone.
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