Thermomechanical characterisation of newly developed UHMWPE composites
Abstract: Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) is a polymer commonly used in various applications, particularly in hip joint replacements. Despite its good performance, it is susceptible to oxidation degradation, which can be mitigated with the addition of vitamin E, and to excessive wear against metal countersurfaces, which can potentially be improved with the addition of nanoparticles. In this work, sixteen newly developed UHMWPE nanocomposites with different nanofillers (multi-walled carbon nanotubes, graphene oxide and nanodiamonds), blended with and without vitamin E, and both irradiation crosslinked and non-crosslinked were studied. Thermomechanical characterisation (dynamic mechanical analysis and thermogravimetric analysis) and tribological pin-on-disc testing showed that both nanofillers and the addition of vitamin E ensured improved the performance of the nanocomposites compared to the virgin UHMWPE. Vitamin E improved the oxidative and thermal stability of UHMWPE, decreased the wear and increased the coefficient of friction. The nanoparticle reinforcements contributed to improved thermal stability to some degree and decreased the wear. Crosslinking was also shown to result in improved thermomechanical performance, although it appears that the addition of vitamin E inhibits the crosslinking process.
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