Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Tribo-mechanical properties and biocompatibility of Ag-containing amorphous carbon films deposited onto Ti6Al4V

Abstract

The addition of Ag to amorphous carbon (a-C) films is highly effective in tailoring the tribo-mechanical properties and biocompatibility. For biomedical applications, Ag-containing a-C (a-C:Ag) represents a promising film material for improving the biofunctional surface properties of Ti-based alloys. In a sputtering process, a-C:Ag films, with Ag contents up to 7.5 at.%, were deposited with a chemically graded TixCy interlayer onto Ti6Al4V. The tribo-mechanical and biocompatible properties of a-C:Ag were evaluated. The influence of the Ag content on these properties was analyzed and compared to those of uncoated Ti6Al4V.

Raman spectroscopy reveals that the amount of incorporated Ag does not induce significant structural changes in the disordered network, only a reduced number of vacancies and sp3-coordinated C bonds within the sp2-dominant a-C network is assigned to the films with high Ag concentration. With increasing Ag content, stresses, hardness, and elastic modulus decrease from (2.02 ± 0.07) to (1.15 ± 0.03) GPa, from (17.4 ± 1.5) to (13.4 ± 0.9) GPa, and from (171.8 ± 8.1) to (138.5 ± 5.8) GPa, respectively. In tribometer tests, the friction behavior against Al2O3 in lubricated condition with a simulated-body-fluid-based lubricant is not affected by the Ag concentration, but the Al2O3 counterpart wear is reduced for all a-C:Ag films compared to a-C. The friction against ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) decreases continuously with increasing Ag concentration and the counterpart wear is lower at higher Ag contents. Compared to a-C:Ag, Ti6Al4V demonstrates lower friction against UHMWPE and higher friction against Al2O3. The a-C:Ag films are not exposed to abrasion by Al2O3 or pronounced material transfer of UHMWPE. The hardness difference and chemical affinity between the friction partners are decisive for the tribological behavior of a-C:Ag. Compared to Ti6Al4V, the a-C:Ag films show antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, while the proliferation of osteoblast-like cells is reduced by Ag.

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