Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Engineering - Materials Engineering


Materials Engineering


Trevor Harding


The increasing usage of metal-on-metal joint replacements consisting of a cobalt-chromium-molybdenum alloy requires increasing concern regarding the inevitable generation of metallic wear debris. Patients with these joint replacements exhibit elevated concentrations of cobalt and chromium ions within their serum, blood and urine. The presence of these metal ions suggests the potential for bodily damage and indicates corrosive processes are acting upon wear debris.

To understand the behavior of these corrosive processes, powders of cobalt-chromium-molybdenum alloy F-75 were studied. Four powder sizes (44, 74, 105, and 420 µm diameter) were subjected to Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution (HBSS) for a 42 day immersion test within an incubating shaker set at 37°C. Samples were removed periodically and analyzed for cobalt and chromium content using Inductive Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES). The resulting data gathered allowed for an evaluation of the corrosion rate as a function of particle diameter and exposure duration.

Two observations were noted from the results. First, cobalt concentration (no chromium was detected) increased as a logarithmic function of time. For the 44, 105, and 420 µm diameter powders, cobalt concentration increased rapidly within four days of exposure but corrosion reached a plateau afterwards. The development of an oxide layer that inhibited further corrosion was the cause for this behavior. Second, the cobalt concentration reached a different upper limit depending on the particle diameter. For the 44, 105, and 420 µm diameter powders, samples reached average limits of 0.0611, 0.0314, and 0.0291 ppm Co, respectively. This observation can be related to the increase in particle surface area as diameter decreases within a given volume of particles.

Modeling of this data resulted in empirical relationships for cobalt concentration and corrosion rate as a function of time, and particle diameter or surface area. However, these relationships were not reliably accurate in predicting the results of external corrosion studies on submicron cobalt-chromium particles. Consequently, this model of particle corrosion does not predict what may occur with nano-scale particles.