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Effect of nitrogen ion implantation on the surface morphology of implanted titanium alloy

AFM and SEM methods were used to characterize the morphology of nitrogen ion implanted surfaces of titanium parts suitable for biocompatible medical implants and high-strength, wearresistant mechanical components.

Introduction

Titanium and its alloys—including e.g., the wellproven TiAl6V4 alloy or multi-element beta titanium (β-Ti) alloys such as β-TiNb35Zr7Ta5, are lightweight, strong and stable materials used in many industries as well as in biomedical applications. However, they suffer from inferior friction and wear resistance, and this is why a variety of surface modification techniques such as thermal and anodic oxidation, gas nitriding and ion implantation have been subject to numerous studies in connection with surface treatments of titanium materials. In particular, nitriding is seen as a promising (and already proven) method applied to improve the surface (mainly, tribological) properties and corrosion resistance of these materials. An advanced technique adopted to introduce nitrogen into the titanium surface is ion implantation; it can be performed even at low temperatures and is effective when fluences higher than ca. 5·1016 cm−2 are employed. A mixed surface layer containing nitride is formed which extends as deep as tens to hundreds of nanometers into the alloy. There is an improvement in hardness by a factor of 7-9 even after annealing, in comparison with the non-implanted sample.

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