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Surface treatments of titanium alloys for biocompatible prostheses

The main objectives of the project consist of the assessment of new surface treatment processes based on ion implantation and chemical polishing, to improve the mechanical and corrosion properties of titanium alloys and to realise new, long lasting and biocompatible prostheses.

The experimental activities on flat samples, defined in order to optimise the sets of process parameters for the treatments of the prostheses have been almost concluded. In particular the chemical polishing treatments have been performed and the samples have been characterised by wear tests and surface analysis. Treated samples showed a better wear behaviour, surface analysis made evident the presence of a mixed titanium oxide layer with a smaller amount of titanium suboxide in treated samples.

As far as ion implantation is concerned a scheme of parameters has been processed and selected, based on 3 energies, 2 doses and 2 temperatures of the samples, in order to optimise the process parameters for applications to the prostheses. Low temperature implantation have been performed and wear tests and microstructural analysis are almost concluded.

An unconventional sample heating system for high temperature implantation has been designed and built whereas the design of the system available for the industrial applications, in terms of sample manipulation, ion sources and temperature is in advanced phase of realisation.

Methodologies for biocompatibility tests have been selected and the experiments are running on untreated samples.

It has been confirmed that ion implantation of nitrogen into titanium alloys can bring improvements in wear resistance in implants. The implanted nitrides do not reduce wear by increasing the surface hardness but mainly by stabilising an oxide layer that plays a lubricating role.

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Ente per le Nuove Tecnologie l'Energia e l'Ambiente (ENEA)
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