This paper is a joint creation between BTG Labs and Teleflex Inc., a prominent provider of medical devices such as medical tubing.
Understanding and controlling surface properties is vital for creating high-performance medical devices. Materials interact with their environment through their surfaces, and surfaces have properties that are quite distinct from the bulk.
A critical characteristic of a materials' surface is its excess reactivity: molecules present in a surface are not in chemical equilibrium due to the fact that they have unsatisfied reactive sites presented to the free surface. This excess reactivity represents chemical potential, literally the potential to enter into a chemical reaction (primary or secondary) with another substance.
This chemical potential is referred to as surface energy. This excess energy associated with a surface results in the properties that we associate with surfaces, such as functionalization, adhesion, and contamination.