93839 - Plasma technologies for biomaterials surface engineering M

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Mechanical Engineering (cod. 5724)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student has a basic knowledge of the role of surface properties of biomaterials, in particular regarding the influence of chemistry, morphology and mechanical properties on characteristic aspects of biomedical implants such as biocompatibility, cell and bacterial adhesion, protein absorption and lubrication. The student is also able to analyze the main plasma technologies adopted for conferring specific surface properties through the processes of coating deposition (in particular polymeric and ceramic), morphological modification, cleaning and ion implantation.

Course contents

The surface of biomaterials plays a fundamental role in determining the interaction with the surrounding biological environment. The biological system in contact with the biomaterial perceives and reacts to the particular chemistry and structure of its surface; processes such as cell growth and characteristics such as the biocompatibility of a biomaterial are directly linked to the interactions between the biological system and the surface. During the course, the functional properties of surfaces will therefore be discussed, focusing on the influence exerted by chemistry, morphology and mechanical properties of the same on aspects such as biocompatibility, cell and bacterial adhesion, protein adsorption and lubricity.

The important role of surfaces has been recognized since the 1960s and in the course of the following decades numerous surface engineering processes, aimed at governing the biological response, have been developed. One of the main actors of these processes is plasma, an ionized gas capable of conducting heat and electricity and consisting of electrons, ions, neutrals and radical species. After a brief introduction aimed at providing the students with some fundamental information on the nature of plasma, the technologies supporting the following processes will be described and discussed: deposition of coatings (in particular polymeric and ceramic), modification of the morphology of the surfaces, cleaning and ion implantation. Examples of their use in the production of orthopedic, dental, cardiovascular, ophthalmic and dermatological implants will be provided.

Finally, some practical experiences of surface modification of biomaterials will be carried out in the laboratory.


  • Copies of the material used during lectures
  • B. D. Ratner, A. S. Hoffman, F. J. Schoen, J. E. Lemons, Biomaterials science: an introduction to materials in medicine (3rd edition), Elsevier, Oxford UK (2013)
  • R. d'Agostino, P. Favia, C. Oehr, M. R. Wertheimer, Plasma Processes and Polymers, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, USA (2005)

Teaching methods

Lectures with overhead projector and slides; laboratory experiences.

Assessment methods

Oral examination

Teaching tools

Access to the Laboratory of Materials Technology and Industrial Applications of Plasmas at DIN, Via Terracini 24, Bologna

Office hours

See the website of Matteo Gherardi


Good health and well-being

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.