Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Shyam Bahadur


The performance of several synthetic biomaterials and bovine articular cartilage were investigated in terms of their suitability for use as articulating surfaces in artificial joints. The Dual-Axis Wear Simulator (DAWS), a wear testing machine that simulates conditions in a synovial joint, was designed and fabricated to enable investigators to measure the wear of such materials in multi-directional sliding while immersed in a bovine serum lubricant solution. This machine was used initially to determine the wear mechanisms and wear amounts of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), polyoxymethylene (POM), and the compliant elastomer Pellethane(TM) 2363-80A. It was found that the compliant material produced lower wear. Dynamic mechanical analysis was used to determine that bovine articular cartilage had a very significant amount of viscoelasticity to support static loads and damp impact loads. Furthermore, the use of a compliant counterface led to lower wear in the cartilage as compared to a rigid counterface. Pt-Zr quasicrystals were used as fillers in UHMWPE, and the wear, stiffness, and impact toughness of the filled polymer were shown to be comparable or better than those of UHMWPE that had been irradiation crosslinked. Crosslinked UHMWPE was investigated for its susceptibility to oxidative degradation and increased wear. It was found that thermal stabilization of the polymer could be eliminated if a mild amount crosslinking was used. Furthermore, there was no degradation in wear resistance of mildly crosslinked and non-stabilized UHMWPE even after accelerated aging. Based on the results of this work and lessons learned about compliance and wear resistance, blends were produced by using surface-activated UHMWPE particles as fillers in elastomeric PUR. The blends showed better wear resistance than UHMWPE, as well as increased stiffness and damping over PUR. The results of this work indicated that there is great potential for the development of new biomaterials and materials treatment methods to produce more durable articulating components in artificial joints.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Christian John Schwartz



Proquest ID


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File Size

127 pages