Mechanical and Thermal Characterisation of Novel UHMWPE Composites for Total Joint Arthroplasty
Abstract: Total joint arthroplasty surgeries are known to have a high success rate but the longevity of the implants still acts as a limiting factor. Ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene is the material of choice for the implant bearing surfaces due to its excellent clinical and tribological performance. A common problem associated with the polymer is however the loosening of the implant from its surrounding bone tissue. This phenomenon is caused by a biological reaction to released wear particles. Reducing the release of wear particles will increase the lifespan of implants and can be accomplished by increasing the wear resistance of the material. Crosslinking of the polymer by means of gamma irradiation is a well known approach to achieve an increased wear resistance but eventually leads to oxidation of the polymer. The addition of vitamin E as antioxidant is known to reduce this without significant loss of mechanical properties. A second approach is based on adding reinforcements to the polymer in order to enhance its tribological performance. This work focuses on the thermal and mechanical characterisation of newly developed UHMWPE nano-composites with a focus on the addition of vitamin E and crosslinking by gamma irradiation. Based on previously published results indicating an increased fracture toughness for different composites, Nanodiamonds, multiwalled carbon nanotubes and graphene oxide nanoparticles were dispersed throughout the matrix and consolidated. The thermal characterisation was performed using differential scanning calorimetry, making it possible to identify the different thermal transitions and degree of crystallinity of the polymer. The fracture toughness, an important property in wear due to fatigue, was furthermore characterised by performing three point bending experiments.Finally, by means of a multiaxial pin-on-plate set-up the wear resistance of the materials was analysed.
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