Comparative Study of Surface Chemical Composition and Oxide Layer Modification upon Oxygen Plasma Cleaning and Piranha Etching on a Novel Low Elastic Modulus Ti25Nb21Hf Alloy
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Metals are widely employed for many biological artificial replacements, and it is known that the quality and the physical/chemical properties of the surface are crucial for the success of the implant. Therefore, control over surface implant materials and their elastic moduli may be crucial to avoid undesired effects. In this study, surface modification upon cleaning and activation of a low elastic modulus Ti alloy (Ti25Hf21Nb) was investigated. Two different methods, oxygen plasma (OP) cleaning and piranha (PI) solution, were studied and compared. Both surface treatments were effective for organic contaminant removal and to increase the Ti-oxide layer thickness rather than other metal-oxides present at the surface, which is beneficial for biocompatibility of the material. Furthermore, both techniques drastically increased hydrophilicity and introduced oxidation and hydroxylation (OH)-functional groups at the surface that may be beneficial for further chemical modifications. However, these treatments did not alter the surface roughness and bulk material properties. The surfaces were fully characterized in terms of surface roughness, wettability, oxide layer composition, and hydroxyl surface density through analytical techniques (interferometry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), contact angle, and zinc complexation). These findings provide essential information when planning surface modifications for cleanliness, oxide layer thickness, and surface hydroxyl density, as control over these factors is essential for many applications, especially in biomaterials.