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Enhancement of Wear and Corrosion Resistance of Beta Titanium Alloy by Laser TechnologyThe relatively high elastic modulus coupled with the presence of toxic vanadium (V) in Ti6Al4V alloy has long been a concern in orthopaedic applications. To solve the problem, a variety of non-toxic and low modulus beta-titanium (beta-Ti) alloys have been developed. Among the beta-Ti alloy family, the quaternary Ti-Nb-Zr-Ta (TZNT) alloys have received the highest attention as a promising replacement for Ti6Al4V due to their lower elastic modulus and outstanding long term stability against corrosion in biological environments. However, the inferior wear resistance of TNZT is still a problem that must be resolved before commercialising in the orthopaedic market. In this work, a newly-developed laser surface treatment technique was employed to improve the surface properties of Ti-35.3Nb-7.3Zr-5.7Ta alloy. The surface microstructure and composition of the laser-treated TNZT surface were examined by grazing incidence x-ray diffraction (GI-XRD) and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The wear and corrosion resistance were evaluated by pin-on-plate sliding test and anodic polarisation test in Hanks’ solution. The experimental results were compared with the untreated (or base) TNZT material. The research findings showed that the laser surface treatment technique reported in this work can effectively improve the wear and corrosion resistance of TNZT. The enhancement of such surface properties was due to the formation of a smooth and hard layer on the substrate surface. The laser-formed layer was metallurgically bonded to the substrate, and had no concern of coating delamination or peel-off.
Fibre laser treatment of beta TNZT titanium alloys for load-bearing implant applications: Effects of surface physical and chemical features on mesenchymal stem cell response and Staphylococcus aureus bacterial attachmentA mismatch in bone and implant elastic modulus can lead to aseptic loosening and ultimately implant failure. Selective elemental composition of titanium (Ti) alloys coupled with surface treatment can be used to improve osseointegration and reduce bacterial adhesion. The biocompatibility and antibacterial properties of Ti-35Nb-7Zr-6Ta (TNZT) using fibre laser surface treatment were assessed in this work, due to its excellent material properties (low Young’s modulus and non-toxicity) and the promising attributes of fibre laser treatment (very fast, non-contact, clean and only causes changes in surface without altering the bulk composition/microstructure). The TNZT surfaces in this study were treated in a high speed regime, specifically 100 and 200 mm/s, (or 6 and 12 m/min). Surface roughness and topography (WLI and SEM), chemical composition (SEM-EDX), microstructure (XRD) and chemistry (XPS) were investigated. The biocompatibility of the laser treated surfaces was evaluated using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) cultured in vitro at various time points to assess cell attachment (6, 24 and 48 h), proliferation (3, 7 and 14 days) and differentiation (7, 14 and 21 days). Antibacterial performance was also evaluated using Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Live/Dead staining. Sample groups included untreated base metal (BM), laser treated at 100 mm/s (LT100) and 200 mm/s (LT200). The results demonstrated that laser surface treatment creates a rougher (Ra value of BM is 199 nm, LT100 is 256 nm and LT200 is 232 nm), spiky surface (Rsk > 0 and Rku > 3) with homogenous elemental distribution and decreasing peak-to-peak distance between ripples (0.63 to 0.315 m) as the scanning speed increases (p < 0.05), generating a surface with distinct micron and nano scale features. The improvement in cell spreading, formation of bone-like nodules (only seen on the laser treated samples) and subsequent four-fold reduction in bacterial attachment (p < 0.001) can be attributed to the features created through fibre laser treatment, making it an excellent choice for load bearing implant applications. Last but not least, the presence of TiN in the outermost surface oxide might also account for the improved biocompatibility and antibacterial performances of TNZT.