Tribochemical reactions in metal-on-metal hip joints influence wear and corrosion

Markus A. Wimmer*, Mathew T. Mathew, Michel P. Laurent, Christopher Nagelli, Yifeng Liao, Laurence D. Marks, Robin Pourzal, Alfons Fischer, Joshua J. Jacobs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

16 Scopus citations


Recent findings indicate the presence of tribochemically gener-ated layers on metal-on-metal (MoM) bearing surfaces. These tribolayers are films of a few-hundred-nanometer thickness and are constituted of carbonaceous material mixed with metal and oxide particles. The purpose of the study was to characterize these tribofilms mechanically and electrochemically. Using a nanoindenter, the local mechanical properties of the tribolayer were measured. On average a hardness of ∼1.0 GPa was determined, which was softer than the underlying metal. The influence of tribomaterial on the electrochemistry of the cobalt-chromium-molybdenum alloy (CoCrMo) was investigated. Bovine calf serum mixture was used as the electrolyte. High- and low-carbon CoCrMo-samples with and without tribolayer were compared using potentiodynamic testing. This corrosive investigation was followed by tribocorrosive tests using a custom made apparatus, where a ceramic ball oscillated against a flat CoCrMo surface. Potential and coefficient of friction were monitored throughout this 100 K cycle test. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy tests before and after testing were conducted. Weight loss was determined using planimetric analysis. It was found that the tribolayered surface had better corrosion resistance than the corresponding tribolayer-free (polished) surface. The tribolayered surface also exhibited a more noble potential during tribocorrosive testing and demonstrated less wear. High- carbon was the superior alloy compared with low carbon for all surface conditions; however, the differences seemed to equalize in the presence of a tribo- film. There were also differences in tribofilm generation, possibly related to the microstructure of the two alloys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMetal-on-Metal Total Hip Replacement Devices
PublisherASTM International
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780803175464
StatePublished - 2013
EventASTM Symposium on Metal-on-Metal Total Hip Replacement Devices - Phoenix, AZ, United States
Duration: May 8 2012May 8 2012

Publication series

NameASTM Special Technical Publication
Volume1560 STP
ISSN (Print)0066-0558


OtherASTM Symposium on Metal-on-Metal Total Hip Replacement Devices
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPhoenix, AZ


  • Corrosion
  • Tribochemical reactions
  • Tribocorrosion
  • Tribofilms
  • Wear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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