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The University of Southampton

Research project: Effects of vitamin E and natural lubricants on wear and oxidation of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE)

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To make better hip implants.

The plastic used in many hip and knee implants today is UHMWPE. Like any other material in a bearing surface it generates wear particles with usage and these particles can impact the success of the implant. One of the problems with UHMWPE is that it tends to oxidize over time and when it does it wears at a much higher and more dangerous rate. Dr Alberts will be working with Monica Ratoi and Ph.D. student Vanesa Martinez, to use a mini traction machine (MTM) to understand how this may be affected by the antioxidant molecule alpha tocopherol (vitamin E) when it is incorporated in the matrix of UHMWPE. We plan to do this in a composite ceramic on UHMWPE system. In addition, we will be examining the effects of various natural lubricants on the wear and friction properties of the system with an eye to developing better synthetic lubricants for simulation studies and to better understand how the natural lubricating fluids in the body may affect the wear properties of UHMWPE.

The ball-on-disc MTM system

The ball-on-disc MTM system we will be using to study wear/friction/lubrication/oxidation of a polyethylene-on-ceramic type of implant.

Related research groups

national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS)
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