A hierarchical nanostructural coating of amorphous silicon nitride on polyetheretherketone with antibacterial activity and promoting responses of rBMSCs for orthopedic applications
Silicon nitride (SN) with good osteoconductivity has been introduced as an implantable biomaterial for joint replacement and interbody fusion devices. In this study, SN was coated on a polyetheretherketone (PEEK) surface by inductively coupled plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (ICPECVD). The results showed that a dense coating (thickness of about 500 nm) of amorphous SN was closely combined with a PEEK substrate (PKSN) with a binding strength of 6.88 N. In addition, the coating surface showed hierarchical nanostructures containing many spherical bulges (sizes about 150 nm), which were composed of many small humps (sizes about 10 nm). Moreover, the roughness, hydrophilicity, surface energy, surface charge and adsorption of bovine serum albumin (BSA) of PKSN were obviously higher than those of PEEK. After immersion into simulated body fluid (SBF), the Si ions were gradually released from PKSN into SBF and a weak alkaline environment was created. Antibacterial experiments showed that PKSN exhibited a greater antibacterial activity than that of PEEK. Moreover, compared with PEEK, PKSN significantly promoted adhesion, proliferation, differentiation and expression of osteogenic related genes of the rat bone marrow stromal cells (rBMSCs). In conclusion, the SN coating of PKSN with hierarchical nanostructures exhibited excellent antibacterial activity and cytocompatibility, which would make it a great candidate for orthopedic applications.