Porous metals have gained interest in many fields such as biomedicine, electronics, and energy. Despite the many benefits that these structures may offer, one of the major challenges in utilizing porous metals is to incorporate active compounds, either small molecules or macromolecules, on these surfaces. Coatings that contain active molecules have previously been used for biomedical applications to enable the slow release of drugs, e.g., with drug-eluting cardiovascular stents. However, direct deposition of organic materials on metals by coatings is very difficult due to the challenge of obtaining uniform coatings, as well as issues related to layer adherence and mechanical stability. Our study describes an optimization of a production process of different porous metals, aluminum, gold, and titanium, using wet-etching. Pertinent physicochemical measurements were carried out to characterize the porous surfaces. Following the production of porous metal surface, a new methodology for incorporating active materials onto the metals by using mechanical entrapment of polymeric nanoparticles in metal pores was developed. To demonstrate our concept of active material incorporation, we produced an odor-releasing metal object with embedded particles loaded with thymol, an odoriferous molecule. Polymer particles were placed inside nanopores in a 3D-printed titanium ring. Chemical analysis, followed by smell tests, indicated that the smell intensity lasts significantly longer in the porous material containing the nanoparticles, compared with the free thymol.
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