PLoS One. 2022 Aug 2;17(8):e0272486. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0272486. eCollection 2022.
The study of the intimate connection occurring at the interface between cells and titanium implant surfaces is a major challenge for dental materials scientists. Indeed, several imaging techniques have been developed and optimized in the last decades, but an optimal method has not been described yet. The combination of the scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with a focused ion beam (FIB), represents a pioneering and interesting tool to allow the investigation of the relationship occurring at the interface between cells and biomaterials, including titanium. However, major caveats concerning the nature of the biological structures, which are not conductive materials, and the physico-chemical properties of titanium (i.e. color, surface topography), require a fine and accurate preparation of the sample before its imaging. Hence, the aim of the present work is to provide a suitable protocol for cell-titanium sample preparation before imaging by SEM-FIB. The concepts presented in this paper are also transferrable to other fields of biomaterials research.