Bioactive Surfaces: Unveiling the Mystery

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Those who work in the medical device industry – specifically with small bone implants – understand the importance of osseointegration. The concept was first introduced in 1969 by Per-Ingvar Brånemark et al.[1],  although it was not given a proper definition until Tomas Albrektsson et al. did so in 1981[2]. The latter party defined osseointegration as “a direct structural and functional connection between living bone and the surface of a load-bearing titanium (Ti) implant.[3]” While Brånemark et al.’s work was focused on dentistry, the concept of osseointegration itself is still integral today in the field of small bone implants.

The Bioactive Surface’s Role in Osseointegration

Traditionally, osseointegration has been tested and achieved using systems such as acid etching, anodizing, sandblasting and titanium plasma spraying. However, the ceaseless progression of scientific discovery has revealed a more promising system: bioactive surfaces. A material becomes bio-functionalized when the physicochemical properties are modified. This modification creates a more favorable biological response from an organism upon contacting the material. “Bioactive surfaces are those capable of achieving a faster and better quality of osseointegration with the aim of solving such problems as poor bone quality or reducing waiting times for prosthetic loading.[3]

Nanoscale & Nanotopology

To achieve maximum efficacy, biological materials and surfaces should be modified at the nanoscale. This scale is measured in billionths of a meter, i.e., nanometers. Working at nanoscale provides a few key advantages, especially since it is where over 80% of biological reactions occur. This is due to the “quantum effects” that occur at nanoscale. These biological mechanics cannot occur or be seen at the visible scale, even with the use of a conventional optical microscope. The properties of features visible at larger scales differ tremendously between those with dimensions of 1-100 nanometers. These properties include:

  • Chemical reactivity
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Fluorescence
  • Melting point
  • Magnetic permeability

Topology is defined as “a branch of mathematics concerned with those properties of geometric configurations (such as point sets) which are unaltered by elastic deformations…” so one can infer how nanoscale correlates to nanotopology. While the concept was first described by physicists Richard P. Feynman in 1959, the term itself was not introduced until 2013 by Drs. M. Ellis Thivagar and Carmel Richard[4]. By employing nanotopology to achieve osseointegration using bioactive surface materials, nature’s greatest mysteries can truly be revealed.

If you wish to learn more about how bioactive surfaces can improve the efficacy of your small bone implant while reaching market more quickly and at lower cost, contact Implant Surfaces today. Implant Surfaces provides small to mid-sized nimble spinal and foot-and-ankle medical device companies with superior implant surface cell attachment performance backed by compelling in vitro and in vivo evidence unavailable elsewhere.


[1] Brånemark P.I., Adell R., Breine U., Hansson B.O., Lindström J., Ohlsson A. Intra-osseous anchorage of dental prostheses. I. Experimental studies. Scand. J. Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 1969;3:81–100.

[2] Albrektsson T., Brånemark P.I., Hansson H.A., Lindström J. Osseointegrated titanium implants. Requirements for ensuring a long-lasting, direct bone-to-implant anchorage in man. Acta Orthop. Scand. 1981;52:155–170.

[3] López-Valverde, Nansi et al. “Bioactive Surfaces vs. Conventional Surfaces in Titanium Dental Implants: A Comparative Systematic Review.” Journal of clinical medicine vol. 9,7 2047. 29 Jun. 2020.

[4] Thivagar, M.L., Richard, C.: On nano forms of weakly open sets. International Journal of Mathematics and Statistics Invention. 1(1), 31–37 (2013)

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