Investigation and development of techniques for the characterisation of the synthetic/biological interface
The purpose of this study is to increase our knowledge of the nature of the surface properties of polymeric materials and improve our understanding of how these factors influence the deposition of proteins to form a reactive biological/synthetic interface. A number of surface analytical techniques were identified as being of potential benefit to this investigation and included in a multidisciplinary research program. Cell adhesion in culture was the primary biological sensor of surface properties, and it showed that the cell response to different materials can be modified by adhesion promoting protein layers: cell adhesion is a protein-mediated event. A range of surface rugosity can be produced on polystyrene, and the results presented here show that surface rugosity does not play a major role in determining a material's cell adhesiveness. Contact angle measurements showed that surface energy (specifically the polar fraction) is important in promoting cell spreading on surfaces. The immunogold labelling technique indicated that there were small, but noticeable differences, between the distribution of proteins on a range of surfaces. This study has shown that surface analysis techniques have different sensitivities in terms of detection limits and depth probed, and these are important in determining the usefulness of the information obtained. The techniques provide information on differing aspects of the biological/synthetic interface, and the consequence of this is that a range of techniques is needed in any full study of such a complex field as the biomaterials area.