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The University of Southampton
EngineeringPostgraduate study

SES-80-144 PhD Studentship: Physics based modelling of wear of UHMWPE used in total joint replacement

Wear of Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) is the limiting factor influencing the longevity of total joint replacement (TJR). Currently, wear of TJR designs is assessed through experimental tests, but these are expensive, time consuming and as a consequence are only able to assess a limited range of activities.

Recently, fast computational tools (rigid body dynamics and finite element simulations) have been developed to simulate wear and the initial results look promising.  These tools provide greater flexibility and allow a more rigorous analysis of the wear potential for new implant designs.  However, the wear models used in these computational studies are relatively crude, based around empirical wear algorithms-generally derived from Archard's law of wear- which do not adequately capture the physics of the wear process and do not generalise to arbitrary loading conditions.  Moreover, realistically simulating the wear process in a finite element context is very challenging if one wants to account explicitly for material removal.

The goal of this project is to develop a computational modelling platform combining level set and fast marching methods together with finite element techniques.  The first stage of this research consists in developing a physics-based constitutive model of UHMWPE capturing the micromechanics of UHMWPE molecular chains.  The second stage is concerned with the explicit removal of material as a result of wear mechanisms.  Level set and/or fast marching methods will be used to track interfaces between virgin and worn UHMWPE phases.

There is NO additional funding available for overseas fees.  We regret it will not be possible to consider your application unless you can provide funding from other sources to pay the fees difference (~£12,388 for 2011/12).

The National Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS) has recently been created from a £10M initiative, funded by EPSRC, to prepare the next generation of engineers to underpin tribology in the UK.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr. Georges Limbert, nCATS & Bioengineering Science Research Group, Lanchester Building, Room 4075, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 2381.



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