Plasma processing of PDMS based spinal implants for covalent protein immobilization, cell attachment and spreading

  • Daniel V. BaxEmail author
  • Yongbai Yin
  • Alexey Kondyurin
  • Ashish D. Diwan
  • Divya Bhargav
  • Anthony S. Weiss
  • Marcela M. M. Bilek
  • David R. McKenzie
Biomaterials Synthesis and Characterization Original Research
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Biomaterials Synthesis and Characterization


PDMS is widely used for prosthetic device manufacture. Conventional ion implantation is not a suitable treatment to enhance the biocompatibility of poly dimethyl siloxane (PDMS) due to its propensity to generate a brittle silicon oxide surface layer which cracks and delaminates. To overcome this limitation, we have developed new plasma based processes to balance the etching of carbon with implantation of carbon from the plasma source. When this carbon was implanted from the plasma phase it resulted in a surface that was structurally similar and intermixed with the underlying PDMS material and not susceptible to delamination. The enrichment in surface carbon allowed the formation of carbon based radicals that are not present in conventional plasma ion immersion implantation (PIII) treated PDMS. This imparts the PDMS surfaces with covalent protein binding capacity that is not observed on PIII treated PDMS. The change in surface energy preserved the function of bound biomolecules and enhanced the attachment of MG63 osteosarcoma cells compared to the native surface. The attached cells, an osteoblast interaction model, showed increased spreading on the treated over untreated surfaces. The carbon-dependency for these beneficial covalent protein and cell linkage properties was tested by incorporating carbon from a different source. To this end, a second surface was produced where carbon etching was balanced against implantation from a thin carbon-based polymer coating. This had similar protein and cell-binding properties to the surfaces generated with carbon inclusion in the plasma phase, thus highlighting the importance of balancing carbon etching and deposition. Additionally, the two effects of protein linkage and bioactivity could be combined where the cell response was further enhanced by covalently tethering a biomolecule coating, as exemplified here with the cell adhesive protein tropoelastin. Providing a balanced carbon source in the plasma phase is applicable to prosthetic device fabrication as illustrated using a 3-dimensional PDMS balloon prosthesis for spinal implant applications. Consequently, this study lays the groundwork for effective treatments of PDMS to selectively recruit cells to implantable PDMS fabricated biodevices.



Funding for the project was obtained from the Australian Research Council and Spinecell Pty Ltd D. V. Bax is funded by the Peoples Programme of the EU 7th Framework Programme (RAE no: PIIF-GA-2013-624904). A. Kondyurin is partially funded by the Ministry of Education of Perm Region.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

A.S.Weiss is the Scientific Founder of Elastagen Pty Ltd. A. D. Diwan discloses 1) Consultant to Nuvasive Inc San Diego (CA) 2) Nuvasive Inc provides an unrestricted donation to my institution (The UNSW) for fellows training 3) Named inventor and part owner of patents for disc repair and regeneration.

Supplementary material

10856_2018_6181_MOESM1_ESM.tif (1.8 mb)
Supplementary information


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PhysicsUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Materials Science and MetallurgyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Spine Service, St George and Sutherland Clinical SchoolUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Charles Perkins CentreUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  6. 6.Bosch InstituteUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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