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  1. Osteoblastic and chemical responses to Poly (ether ether ketone) (PEEK) material have been improved using a variety of low-temperature plasmas (LTPs). Surface chemical properties are modified, and can be used, using low-temperature plasma (LTP) treatments which change surface functional groups. These functional groups increase biomineralization, in simulated body fluid conditions, and cellular viability. PEEK scaffolds were treated, with a variety of LTPs, incubated in simulated body fluids, and then analyzed using multiple techniques. First, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed morphological changes in the biomineralization for all samples. Calcein staining, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) confirmed that all low-temperature plasma-treated groups showed higher levels of biomineralization than the control group. MTT cell viability assays showed LTP-treated groups had increased cell viability in comparison to non-LTP-treated controls. PEEK treated with triethyl phosphate plasma (TEP) showed higher levels of cellular viability at 82.91% ± 5.00 (n = 6) and mineralization. These were significantly different to both the methyl methacrylate (MMA) 77.38% ± 1.27, ethylene diamine (EDA) 64.75% ± 6.43 plasma-treated PEEK groups, and the control, non-plasma-treated group 58.80 ± 2.84. FTIR showed higher levels of carbonate and phosphate formation on the TEP-treated PEEK than the other samples; however, calcein staining fluorescence of MMA and TEP-treated PEEK had the highest levels of biomineralization measured by pixel intensity quantification of 101.17 ± 4.63 and 96.35 ± 3.58, respectively, while EDA and control PEEK samples were 89.53 ± 1.74 and 90.49 ± 2.33, respectively. Comparing different LTPs, we showed that modified surface chemistry has quantitatively measurable effects that are favorable to the cellular, biomineralization, and chemical properties of PEEK.

     
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