Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Engineering - Materials Engineering


Materials Engineering


Trevor Harding


In 2005, over 200,000 Americans underwent a hip arthroplasty, the replacement of a hip joint with an artificial prosthesis. Of these arthroplasties, metal-on-metal type implants represent an increasing usage percentage. Metal-on-metal implants are selected largely for their low volumetric wear rate, durability, and resistance to corrosion. In spite of these advantages, little is known concerning the long-term consequences of heavy metal alloy use in the body, although early research indicates potentially carcinogenic results. This thesis is a preliminary investigation into these long term effects and their root causes.

An improved comprehension of the corrosion kinetics and the rate of ion production from the high surface energy wear debris released by implant articulation can assist in illustrating the relative clinical significance of exposure to these metallic bodies over time. This thesis primarily focuses on developing a test methodology for the detection and analysis of ion dissociation in simulated body fluids. In order to validate this test methodology, the ion dissociation rates and surface characteristics of several predetermined diameters of cobalt chromium alloy spherical particles were analyzed.

The effect of changing particle diameter, and thus surface area to volume ratio, on ion dissociation rate was determined to be significant when not affected by localized agglomeration. Additionally, preferential corrosion of cobalt within individual grains was observed and correlated to elevated cobalt concentrations in the electrolyte. These results suggest that ion dissociation kinetics for true wear particles can be determined through the refinement and application of the methodology developed.