Several technologies developed for the treatment of various diseases involve the use of devices fabricated from synthetic materials, such as polymers. Polymers used for these applications typically are hydrophobic and thus, refractory to cell adhesion and proliferation (a characteristic often considered undesirable in biomedical applications). Application-specific surface modifications can improve the performances of a device. Such surface modifications are typically performed using a wide array of techniques, including wet chemical processes, ion beams, ionizing radiations, flames and cold plasmas. This last approach has demonstrated significant industrial potential due to its versatility, efficiency and dry processing nature. Cold plasma-based processes are currently employed for many applications, such as the preparation of plasma-treated cell culture plates.
In the case of plasma surface modification for biomedical applications, the primary goal is generally to incorporate functional groups on the surface to enhance or deter its interactivity with foreign biomolecules. Previous reports have demonstrated the importance of specific nitrogen- and oxygen-containing functional groups such as amines, hydroxyls and carboxylic acids for stimulating cell adhesion and proliferation.
I work on the development of functional thin organic coatings, prepared by cold plasma and vacuum ultraviolet processes aimed at biomedical applications. This field of research is increasingly active, on account of “cross-fertilization” between the health- and materials sciences. Although the development of deposition techniques continues to be an essential research avenue, it is also of equally utmost importance to develop characterization tools that will enable their successful application. By simultaneously obtaining data that can be used in the design and optimization of materials for various applications, those tools will encourage a multidisciplinary dialogue amongst chemists, engineers, physicists, biologists and physicians. My research program is anchored to the following areas of development: i) Development of coating technologies; ii) Development of surface analysis techniques and strategies; iii) Investigation of the cell-surface interactions; iv) Development of coatings and devices for biomedical applications.