Orthopedics and dentistry are two areas that have significantly benefited from the development of advanced materials for implantable devices. However, there are several challenges associated with acquiring and retaining stable fixation of the device at the bony site. A critical goal of current orthopedic and dental biomaterials research is to design implants that induce controlled and guided growth around the implant, as well as rapid healing. In addition to the acceleration of normal wound healing, these implants should result in the formation of a characteristic interfacial layer with adequate biomechanical properties.

Options for stabilizing the implant include modifying the surface of the component either with topographical cues, or with a bioactive coating, or a combination of both that encourages bone cell attachment and growth.

Next generation material
Ketul C Popat's research group at Colorado State University and Craig A Grimes' group at Pennsylvania State University are working together to develop novel nanostructured tantala surfaces for enhanced osseointegration. The teams envisage that the incorporation of such nanoarchitectures on microporous metals will further facilitate the culture and maintenance of differentiated cell states, and provide long-term cell viability and functionality. The researchers go on to anticipate that these tantala nanotube arrays will be able to mimic the complex geometries of natural tissue and will provide a porous mesh for the growth and maintenance of the cells. Further studies are now directed towards more detailed biological characterization and in vivo biocompatibility of tantala nanotube arrays.