Ceramic Physics Laboratory, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Sakyo-ku, Matsugasaki, 606-8585 Kyoto, JapanCeramic Physics Laboratory, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Sakyo-ku, Matsugasaki, 606-8585 Kyoto, JapanAmedica Corporation, 1885 West 2100 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84119, USA
Alfredo Rondinella;Elia Marin;Bryan J. McEntire
This present research is aimed at understanding the influence of Zirconia-Toughened Alumina (ZTA) and Silicon Nitride (Si_3N_4) on Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) acetabular liners. Bioceramic femoral heads were systematically tested against UHMWPE in controlled environment according to static/load-free coupling in hydrothermal environment, pin-on-ball wear testing, and hip-simulator wear testing. In addition, a retrieved ZTA femoral head has been analyzed and results have been compared to the simulations. Experimental results from X-ray photoelectron (XPS), cathodoluminescence (CL), Raman and Fourier-Transformed Infrared spectroscopy suggest that, despite conventional notions imply that bioceramics are inert, the surface chemistry of bioceramics was relevant to the oxidation rate of polyethylene liners. Non-biointertness could either be advantageous or disadvantageous toward polyethylene oxidation. The main reason resides in the peculiar chemical interactions between polyethylene and different bioceramics; more specifically, it depends on the direction of oxygen flow at the interface between the ceramic and the polymer. ZTA femoral heads were found to release a non-negligible amount of oxygen moieties from their surfaces, thus accelerating oxidative degradation of polyethylene. Conversely, Si_3N_4 ceramics exerted a protective role towards the polyethylene liner by scavenging oxygen from the tribolayer. The results of this work provide new insights into the interaction between bioceramics and polymers, which should also be considered when designing the next generation artificial hip joints with significantly elongated lifetimes.