Lubrication, friction and wear of artificial hip joints


Biotribology deals with tribology in living organisms and at the interface between biological and artificial surfaces. This multidisciplinary field combines biology, surface physics, material science, chemistry, biomechanics and as well engineering discipline. We study lubrication, friction and wear of artificial hip and knee joints. We also analyse lubrication and friction of joint cartilage and the impact of viscosupplementation, which is conventional treatment for osteoarthrosis. Currently, our activities are being extended into other fields, such as eye tribology, tribology of small joints replacements made by 3D printing, or extension of service life of implants due to targeted modification of implant contact surfaces ensuring minimization of friction and wear.

Research characteristics

Our experimental devices enable us to analyse lubrication film thickness between rubbing surfaces of joint components. We have been aplllying two methods - optical interferometry for measuring lubricant film thickness with a resolution down to 1 nanometre and fluorescence microscopy, which enables to determine the role of particular constituents contained in synovial fluid. Together with Orthopaedic Clinic of University Hospital Olomouc we cooperate on experimental study focused on lubrication, friction and wear of artificial hip joints considering replacement material and geometry. We also analyse wear of extracted polyethylene hip replacements using optical 3D scanning. All the above mentioned optical methods were developed at our laboratories. Our research team was the first ever introducing a measurement of lubricant film thickness in artificial hip joint considering real conformity of rubbing surfaces. Other fields of our interest are represented by biotribology of joint cartilage, surface texturing and eye/lens contact. We also study coefficient of friction and lubrication film in relation to viscosupplements used as a treatment for arthritis. The aim is to determine appropriate product regarding composition of synovial fluid of the particular patient and to maximise therapeutic effect. We cooperate with Research Center for Advanced Biomechanics of Kyushu University, Rush University in Chicago, University of Arkansas, University of Waterloo and others.

Laboratory equipment

  • pendulum hip joint simulator
  • ball-on-disc tribometer using optical interferometry
  • hip and knee joint simulator wit variable load and kinematics
  • optical profiler Bruker Contour GT X8
  • universal tribometer Bruker UMT Tribolab
  • universal tribometer Rtec
  • high-speed camera Phantom v710
  • high-speed camera Andor Neo
  • 3D optical digitizer ATOS Triple Scan
  • rotational rheometer RotoViscoTM 1
  • pin-on-plate tribometer with reciprocating movement