Blood, plasma and water droplets beading on a superomniphobic surface. CSU researchers have created a superhemophobic titanium surface, repellent to blood, that has potential applications for biocompatible medical devices. (Credit: Colorado State University)

Medical implants like stents, catheters, and tubing introduce risk for blood clotting and infection — a perpetual problem for many patients. To address this, researchers have developed a specially grown, “superhemophobic” titanium surface that’s extremely repellent to blood. The material could form the basis for surgical implants with lower risk of rejection by the body.

Starting with sheets of titanium, which is commonly used for medical devices, the researchers grew chemically altered surfaces that act as perfect barriers between the titanium and blood. Their teams conducted experiments showing very low levels of platelet adhesion, a biological process that leads to blood clotting and eventual rejection of a foreign material.

The researchers analyzed variations of titanium surfaces, including different textures and chemistries, and they compared the extent of platelet adhesion and activation. Fluorinated nanotubes offered the best protection against clotting, and they plan to conduct follow-up experiments. Growing a surface and testing it in the lab is only the beginning, the researchers say. They want to continue examining other clotting factors, and eventually, to test real medical devices.