Six-Month Long In Vitro Degradation Tests of Biodegradable Twinning-Induced Plasticity Steels Alloyed with Ag for Stent Applications

ACS Biomater Sci Eng. 2021 Aug 9;7(8):3669-3682. doi: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.1c00365. Epub 2021 Jul 16.


Twinning-induced plasticity (TWIP) Fe-Mn-C steels are biodegradable metals with far superior mechanical properties to any biodegradable metal, including Mg alloys, used in commercially available devices. For this reason, the use of Fe-Mn-C alloys to produce thinner and thinner implants can be exploited for overcoming the device size limitations that biodegradable stents still present. However, Fe-Mn steels are known to form a phosphate layer on their surface over long implantation times in animals, preventing device degradation in the required timeframe. The introduction of second phases in such alloys to promote galvanic coupling showed a short-term promise, and particularly the use of Ag looked especially effective. Nonetheless, the evolution of the corrosion mechanism of quaternary Fe-Mn-C-Ag alloys over time is still unknown. This study aims at understanding how corrosion changes over time for a TWIP steel alloyed with Ag using a simple static immersion setup. The presence of Ag promoted some galvanic coupling just in the first week of immersion; this effect was then suppressed by the formation of a mixed carbonate/hydroxide layer. This layer partly detached after 2 months and was replaced by a stable phosphate layer, over which a new carbonate/hydroxide formed after 4 months, effectively hindering the sample degradation. Attachment of phosphates to the surface matches 1-year outcomes from animal tests reported by other authors, but this phenomenon cannot be predicted using immersion up to 28 days. These results demonstrate that immersion tests of Fe-based degradable alloys can be related to animal tests only when they are carried out for a sufficiently long time and that galvanic coupling with Ag is not a viable strategy in the long term. Future works should focus more on surface modifications to control the interfacial behavior rather than alloying in the bulk.

Keywords: biodegradable metals; corrosion; degradation mechanism; silver; steels; twinning-induced plasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alloys*
  • Animals
  • Biodegradable Plastics*
  • Materials Testing
  • Steel
  • Stents


  • Alloys
  • Biodegradable Plastics
  • Steel