Regenerating titanium ventricular assist device surfaces after gold/palladium coating for scanning electron microscopy.
Titanium is one of the most commonly used materials for implantable devices in humans. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) serves as an important tool for imaging titanium surfaces and analyzing cells and other organic matter adhering to titanium implants. However, high-vacuum SEM imaging of a nonconductive sample requires a conductive coating on the surface. A gold/palladium coating is commonly used and to date no method has been described to "clean" such gold/palladium covered surfaces for repeated experiments without etching the titanium itself. This constitutes a major problem with titanium-based implantable devices which are very expensive and thus in short supply. Our objective was to devise a protocol to regenerate titaniumsurfaces after SEM analysis. In a series of experiments, titanium samples from implantable cardiac assist devices were coated with fibronectin, seeded with cells and then coated with gold/palladium for SEM analysis. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy spectra were obtained before and after five different cleaning protocols. Treatment with aqua regia (a 1:3 solution of concentrated nitric and hydrochloric acid), with or without ozonolysis, followed by sonication in soap solution and sonication in deionized water, allowed regenerating titanium surfaces to their original state. Atomic force microscopy confirmed that the established protocol did not alter the titanium microstructure. The protocol described herein is applicable to almost all titanium surfaces used in biomedical sciences and because of its short exposure time to aqua regia, will likely work for many titanium alloys as well.
Achneck, HE; Serpe, MJ; Jamiolkowski, RM; Eibest, LM; Craig, SL; Lawson, JH
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