Surface modification of a commercial bone plate (Ti6Al4V) implant for improved antibacterial and cytocompatibility via thermal dewetting of a silver thin film

Biomed Phys Eng Express. 2024 Apr 2;10(3). doi: 10.1088/2057-1976/ad34dc.


The high demand for bone grafts has motivated the development of implants with excellent osteogenic activity, whereas the risk of implant-associated infection, particularly given the rise of antimicrobial resistance, has compelled the development of implants with innovative antimicrobial strategies in which a small amount of bactericidal agent can effectively kill a wide range of bacteria. To induce antibacterial property, the surface of Grade-5 bone plate titanium implants used in clinical applications was modified using direct current (DC) sputter coating followed by thermal annealing. The 15 nm silver film-coated implants were thermally annealed in the furnace for 15 min at 750 °C. The modified implant surface's antibacterial efficacy againstEscherichia coli(E. coli),Staphylococcus aureus(S. aureus),Salmonella typhi, andMethicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureusbacteria has been assessed using a colony-forming assay. On the modified implant surface, the growth ofE. coliandS. aureusbacteria is reduced by 99.72%, while highly drug-resistant bacteria are inhibited by 96.59%. The MTT assay was used to assess the cytotoxicity of the modified bone-implant surface against NIH3T3 mouse fibroblast cells. The modified bone-implant surface promoted fibroblast growth and demonstrated good cytocompatibility. Furthermore, the mechanical properties of the implant were not harmed by this novel surface modification method. This method is simple and provides new insight into surface modification of commercial metallic implants to have effective antibacterial properties against various classes of bacteria.

Keywords: DC sputtering; antibacterial property; bone implant; surface texturing; thermal dewetting.

MeSH terms

  • Alloys*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bone Plates
  • Escherichia coli
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus*
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Silver*
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Titanium


  • Silver
  • titanium alloy (TiAl6V4)
  • Titanium
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Alloys