Phosphate bioglass thin-films: Cross-area uniformity, structure and biological performance tailored by the simple modification of magnetron sputtering gas pressure


Currently, there is a considerable time-lag in the industrialisation of innovative technological solutions for the functionalization of osseous implants, with ever-demanding healthcare requirements (e.g., controlled release of therapeutic ions, match of biomaterial degradation - bone growth rates, antimicrobial efficiency). As third-generation biomaterials, phosphate bio-glasses (PBGs) have demonstrated an ability to stimulate specific biological responses from tissue to molecular level, by successfully coupling bioactive and resorbable material properties. Here, radio-frequency magnetron sputtered (RF-MS) PBGs were explored as sacrificial resorbable layers for prospective biomedical implant designs. A PBG powder with a 50-P2O5, 35-CaO, 10-Na2O and 5-Fe2O3 composition (mol%) was used as source (target) material. The influence of the argon working pressure (0.2-1 Pa) - one of the most prominent RF-MS variables - on the morphology, structure, uniformity, composition, degradation rate and cytocompatibility of PBG films was investigated. The engineered modification of physical-chemical and biological features of the PBG sputtered films was multi-parametrically surveyed by AFM, EDXS, spectroscopic ellipsometry, GIXRD, FTIR spectroscopy measurements and in vitro assays. Results suggested that the film thickness, composition, density and structure were preserved over a uniformity region having a diameter of similar to 30 mm, irrespective of sputtering pressure. The network connectivity and the surface porosity of the films were found to have antagonistic roles with respect to the in vitro degradation performance. The possibility of fine tuning the composition, structure and thereby biological interaction of the PBG films by conveniently modifying the sputtering pressure was shown (i.e., permitting their complete controlled degradation, without cytotoxic effects). This work is the first to show in vitro cytocompatibility outcomes of sputtered PBG films and their cross-area uniformity, and thus, it could prove to be an important technological step in their future biomedical application and suggest implications for future industrial scale-up.




Chemistry, Physical; Materials Science, Coatings & Films; Physics, Applied; Physics, Condensed Matter


Tite, T; Popa, AC; Chirica, IM; Stuart, BW; Galca, AC; Balescu, LM; Popescu-Pelin, G; Grant, DM; Ferreira, JMF; Stan, GE

nossos autores


The authors thank for the financial support of the Ministery of Research and Innovation, CNCS -UEFISCDI, Romania, in the framework of project PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2016-1501, and to the institutional Core Program 21 N. This work was also developed within the scope of the project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, FCT Ref. UID/CTM/50011/2019, financed by national funds through the FCT/MCTES.

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