Co-Cr alloys such as L605 are widely applied for the manufacture of medical devices, including tiny cardiovascular stents. The presence of potentially toxic and allergenic release of Ni, Co, and Cr ions from these devices remains an unsolved concern. Surface modification by oxygen plasma immersion implantation (PIII) could be an excellent technique to create a dense and thin passive oxide layer on a relatively complex shape of a tiny device, such as a stent, thus reducing the potential release of metallic ions. The effect of oxygen PIII was investigated on L605 alloy specimens, from 5 to 50 mTorr gas pressures, and under pulsed bias voltages from -0.1 to -10 kV. The surface chemistry was investigated by x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, while its morphology and surface energy were evaluated, respectively, by atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy and by a sessile drop static contact angle. Electrochemical characterization was performed by potentiodynamic tests in the saline solution. Mechanical properties of the modified surface layer, specifically film adhesion and hardness (H), were assessed by scratch and nanoindentation tests. Results shown that the oxidized layers were composed of a mixture of Co and Cr oxides and hydroxides and were rich in Co. The corrosion rate was considerably reduced after O PIII, even for treatments using low bias voltage (-0.1 kV) and with consequent low oxygen implantation depth. Moreover, O PIII also improved surface hardness. The oxidized layers were found to have good adhesion and to be scratch resistant.
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