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Wear. 2015 May-Jun;332-333:643-649.

The effect of contact load on CoCrMo wear and the formation and retention of tribofilms.

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Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.
Department of Material Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.
Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA ; Materials Science and Engineering, University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany.


Tribochemical reactions in a protein lubricated metal-on-metal (MoM) sliding contact may play a significant role for its wear performance. Such reactions lead to the formation of a carbonaceous 'tribofilm', which can act as a protective layer against corrosion and wear. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of contact load on wear and the formation and retention of tribofilms. Wear tests were performed in a custom-made ball-on-flat testing apparatus that incorporated an electrochemical cell. A ceramic ball was used to articulate against low-carbon wrought CoCrMo alloy pins in bovine serum. Using a range of contact loads at a single potentiostatic condition (close to free potential), weight loss and changes in surface properties were evaluated. We determined that wear was influenced by the loading condition. As expected, wear increased with load, but the association between applied load and measured weight loss was not linear. In the intermediate load region, in the range of 32-48 N (~58-80 MPa), there was more than an order of magnitude drop in the wear per unit load, and the wear versus load data suggested an inflexion point at 49 N. Regression analyses yielded a cubic model (R2=0.991; p=0.0002), where the cubic term, which represents the inflexion, was highly significant (p=0.0021). This model is supported by the observations that the minimum in the friction versus load curve is at 52 N and the highest relative increase in polarization resistance occurred at 49 N. Scanning electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy indicated the absence of a tribofilm for the low and within the contact area of the high load cases. Synergistic interactions of wear and corrosion seem to play an important role.


Metal-on-metal; Sliding wear; Tribochemical reactions; Tribocorrosion; Tribofilm

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