Atmospheric plasma spray (APS) remains the only certified industrial process to produce hydroxyapatite (Hap) coatings on orthopaedic and dental implants intended for commercialization. Despite the established clinical success of Hap-coated implants, such as hip and knee arthroplasties, a concern is being raised regarding the failure and revision rates in younger patients, which are increasing rapidly worldwide. The lifetime risk of replacement for patients in the 50–60 age interval is about 35%, which is significantly higher than 5% for patients aged 70 or older. Improved implants targeted at younger patients are a necessity that experts have been alerted to. One approach is to enhance their bioactivity. For this purpose, the method with the most outstanding biological results is the electrical polarization of Hap, which remarkably accelerates implant osteointegration. There is, however, the technical challenge of charging the coatings. Although this is straightforward on bulk samples with planar faces, it is not easy on coatings, and there are several problems regarding the application of electrodes. To the best of our knowledge, this study demonstrates, for the first time, the electrical charging of APS Hap coatings using a non-contact, electrode-free method: corona charging. Bioactivity enhancement is observed, establishing the promising potential of corona charging in orthopedics and dental implantology. It is found that the coatings can store charge at the surface and bulk levels up to high surface potentials (>1000 V). The biological in vitro results show higher Ca2+ and P5+ intakes in charged coatings compared to non-charged coatings. Moreover, a higher osteoblastic cellular proliferation is promoted in the charged coatings, indicating the promising potential of corona-charged coatings when applied in orthopedics and dental implantology.
- atmospheric plasma spray
- corona charging
- hydroxyapatite coatings
- non-contact electrical charging