UA StartUp Finishes Second at International Innovation Conference

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A University of Alabama-based startup company that specializes in biodegradable medical implants recently placed second at the International Innovation in Materials Science Competition in Boston, Mass.

Surface Integrity LLC, which has a patent pending for controlling the degradation of magnesium orthopedic implants, survived two rounds of elimination and was one of 26 finalists from six countries selected to demonstrate inventions.

The International Innovation in Materials Science Competition, known as iMatSci, provides a demonstration platform for technology providers across all science, technology, engineering and mathematics departments at universities and startups to demonstrate their newest materials-focused technologies in practical applications.

Surface Integrity, started by Dr. Yuebin Guo, a UA professor of mechanical engineering, and Dr. Michael Sealy, a UA graduate, uses a laser peening process whereby shock waves alter the surface and corrosion rate of a magnesium implant. Surface Integrity uses the process to control the corrosion rate of magnesium with the goal that a surgical rod or plate degrades after it has served its purpose.

The technology is being marketed as a replacement for non-degradable stainless steel and titanium devices as well as degradable polymers, which are not as strong or suitable for load-bearing applications. Surface Integrity’s technology combines a metal’s benefits, such as high strength, with the degradable qualities of polymers.

Sealy, a recent UA mechanical engineering graduate and co-inventor of the technology, said his company is trying to eliminate permanent implants for patients that do not need them as well as the second surgeries often required to remove them.

“I had screws inserted in my elbow over 18 years ago, and now they cause pain,” Sealy said. “I’m in a situation where I will eventually need a second surgery to remove them. We’re trying to avoid having permanent implants, and we can do that with surface treatments.

“We create a textured surface layer that allows an implant to degrade fast or slow depending on what each patient needs. The reason this is important is because not everyone’s bones heal at the same rate. When you’re young, your bones heal quickly and thus you need an implant to serve its purpose and get out quickly. If you’re a grandmother with osteoporosis, your bones regenerate more slowly and need an implant that degrades slower.”

Surface Integrity is seeking funding to develop a prototype and begin pre-clinical testing. One of more than a dozen startup companies calling The University of Alabama home, Surface Integrity received early assistance and mentoring through both the Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs center and the Office for Technology Transfer within the UA Office of the Vice President for Research.


David Miller, UA media relations, 205/348-0825,


Michael Sealy, visiting scientist, College of Engineering,