Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

The roughness and imaging characterisation of different pharmaceutical surfaces

Paulus Seitavuopio

Doctoral dissertation, June 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Pharmacy, Division of Pharmaceutical Technology.

The surface properties of solid state pharmaceutics are of critical importance. Processing modifies the surfaces and effects surface roughness, which influences the performance of the final dosage form in many different levels. Surface roughness has an effect on, e.g., the properties of powders, tablet compression and tablet coating. The overall goal of this research was to understand the surface structures of pharmaceutical surfaces. In this context the specific purpose was to compare four different analysing techniques (optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, laser profilometry and atomic force microscopy) in various pharmaceutical applications where the surfaces have quite different roughness scale. This was done by comparing the image and roughness analysing techniques using powder compacts, coated tablets and crystal surfaces as model surfaces.

It was found that optical microscopy was still a very efficient technique, as it yielded information that SEM and AFM imaging are not able to provide. Roughness measurements complemented the image data and gave quantitative information about height differences. AFM roughness data represents the roughness of only a small part of the surface and therefore needs other methods like laser profilometer are needed to provide a larger scale description of the surface. The new developed roughness analysing method visualised surface roughness by giving detailed roughness maps, which showed local variations in surface roughness values. The method was able to provide a picture of the surface heterogeneity and the scale of the roughness. In the coating study, the laser profilometer results showed that the increase in surface roughness was largest during the first 30 minutes of coating when the surface was not yet fully covered with coating. The SEM images and the dispersive X-ray analysis results showed that the surface was fully covered with coating within 15 to 30 minutes. The combination of the different measurement techniques made it possible to follow the change of surface roughness and development of polymer coating. The optical imaging techniques gave a good overview of processes affecting the whole crystal surface, but they lacked the resolution to see small nanometer scale processes. AFM was used to visualize the nanoscale effects of cleaving and reveal the full surface heterogeneity, which underlies the optical imaging. Ethanol washing changed small (nanoscale) structure to some extent, but the effect of ethanol washing on the larger scale was small. Water washing caused total reformation of the surface structure at all levels.

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Last updated 19.05.2006

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