This study tested the following hypotheses: (1) acid-cleaned and passivated unalloyed titanium implants have higher surface energies (which are considered desirable for bone implants) than ethanol-cleaned titanium; (2) higher temperatures of heat treatment of unalloyed titanium result in higher surface energies; and (3) these changes can be related to changes in surface composition and roughness. Thus, unalloyed titanium specimens were either acid-cleaned and passivated (CP) or ethanol-cleaned (Et). Each set was then divided into 3 groups and heat-treated for 1 hour at 316°C (600°F), 427°C (800°F), and 538°C (1,000°F), respectively. Surface roughness values for each of these groups were determined using atomic force microscopy, while surface compositions were determined using Auger electron, x-ray photoelectron, and Raman spectroscopic techniques. Surface energies were estimated using a 2-liquid geometric mean technique and correlated with surface roughness, elemental composition, and elemental thickness. The CP surfaces were slightly rougher than the Et specimens, which had greater oxide thickness and hydrocarbon presence. The surface oxides were composed of TiO2, Ti2O3, and possibly titanium peroxide; those heat-treated at 427°C or above were crystalline. The CP specimens had carbonaceous coverage that was of a different composition from that on Et specimens. The CP specimens had significantly higher surface energies, which showed statistically significant correlations with oxide thickness and carbonaceous presence. In conclusion, ethanol cleaning of unalloyed titanium dental implants may not provide optimal surface properties when compared to cleaning with phosphoric acid followed by nitric acid passivation.
Keywords: ethanol, passivation, surface characterization, temperature, titanium