Scientists from Brown think they have discovered a way to make anodized titanium screws and other implantable orthopedic medgadgets better by covering them with carbon nanotubes:
The team took titanium — the most popular implant material around — and chemically treated it and applied an electrical current to it. This process, called anodization, creates a pitted coating in the surface of the titanium. Webster and his team packed those pits with a cobalt catalyst and then ran the samples through a chemical process that involved heating them to a scorching 700° C. That caused carbon nanotubes to sprout from each pit.
Researchers then placed human osteoblasts, or bone-forming cells, onto the nanotube-covered samples as well as onto samples of plain and anodized titanium. The samples were placed in an incubator. After three weeks, the team found that the bone cells grew twice as fast on the titanium covered in nanotubes. Cells interacting with the nanotubes also made significantly more calcium — the essential ingredient for healthy bones.
Press release: Bone-Growing Nanomaterial Could Improve Orthopaedic Implants
Link to abstract in Nanotechnology…