Visible-Light-Induced Photocatalytic and Antibacterial Activity of TiO2 Codoped with Nitrogen and Bismuth: New Perspectives to Control Implant-Biofilm-Related Diseases
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Biofilm-associated diseases are one of the main causes of implant failure. Currently, the development of implant surface treatment goes beyond the osseointegration process and focuses on the creation of surfaces with antimicrobial action and with the possibility to be re-activated (i.e., light source activation). Titanium dioxide (TiO2), an excellent photocatalyst used for photocatalytic antibacterial applications, could be a great alternative, but its efficiency is limited to the ultraviolet (UV) range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Since UV radiation has carcinogenic potential, we created a functional TiO2 coating codoped with nitrogen and bismuth via the plasma electrolytic oxidation (PEO) of titanium to achieve an antibacterial effect under visible light with re-activation potential. A complex surface topography was demonstrated by scanning electron microscopy and three-dimensional confocal laser scanning microscopy. Additionally, PEO-treated surfaces showed greater hydrophilicity and albumin adsorption compared to control, untreated titanium. Bismuth incorporation shifted the band gap of TiO2 to the visible region and facilitated higher degradation of methyl orange (MO) in the dark, with a greater reduction in the concentration of MO after visible-light irradiation even after 72 h of aging. These results were consistent with the in vitro antibacterial effect, where samples with nitrogen and bismuth in their composition showed the greatest bacterial reduction after 24 h of dual-species biofilm formation (Streptococcus sanguinis and Actinomyces naeslundii) in darkness with a superior effect at 30 min of visible-light irradiation. In addition, such a coating presents reusable photocatalytic potential and good biocompatibility by presenting a noncytotoxicity effect on human gingival fibroblast cells. Therefore, nitrogen and bismuth incorporation into TiO2 via PEO can be considered a promising alternative for dental implant application with antibacterial properties in darkness, with a stronger effect after visible-light application.