ARC-supported researchers at RMIT University have discovered that the body is less likely to reject titanium implants when they are coated with diamonds. The development is the first step toward 3D printed diamond implants for biomedical uses and orthopaedics—surgical procedures involving the human musculoskeletal system.

The research team, including ARC Future Fellow, Professor Andrew Greentree, and ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grant recipient, Associate Professor Kate Fox, has discovered that the coating not only promotes better cellular attachment to the underlying diamond-titanium layer, but encourages the proliferation of mammalian cells.

The researchers say that the diamond enhances the integration between the living bone and the artificial implant, reducing bacterial attachment over an extended period. Remarkably, the diamond coating is also cheaper than titanium powder. The discovery opens new opportunities for novel coatings on all kinds of titanium devices, as well as those with biomedical applications.

The breakthrough involved researchers from a range of disciplines at RMIT, other Australian universities, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics and the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Additive Biomanufacturing.

YouTube video: Are Your Bones Made of Diamonds? 
Credit: Scope TV

Image: A polycrystalline diamond coated titanium implant fabricated using selective laser melting.
Credit: Kate Fox.