Biomedical

By improving our understanding of how both natural and synthetic materials perform and interact within the human body, we aid the discovery and development of refined alternatives, enabling us all to live a more fulfilling life.

Many would imagine biomedical tribology is limited to replacement joints; however, this is not the case. Research has long been conducted to develop and improve the tribosystems found in a whole range of biomedical appliances. These are not only limited to replacement joints but also contact lenses, medicines and dental implants to name a few. PCS’ instruments are used by researchers around the world to help push this work forward, facilitating advancements that can change people’s lives for the better.

Tribology plays a key role in the development of medicines, primarily in how medicines are delivered into the body, with particular focus on how smoothly both solid and liquid medicines can travel down the oesophagus, and whether they coat it as they do or slide straight through. For contact lenses, the importance of tribology is more obvious. The interfaces between a contact lens and an eyeball, and the contact lens and an eye lid are what drive how comfortable a contact lens is for its wearer. Without in-depth research and investigation of these interfaces, people could be left with uncomfortable or even dangerous lenses.

For replacement joints, tribological research is vital in understanding how effective materials and coatings will be when in situ. For example, research is ongoing on the effectiveness of replacement synovial joints. These joints (e.g. knee and hip joints) are continuously transmitting large dynamic loads whilst accommodating a wide range of movements. Due to trauma and diseases – such as osteoarthritis – these joints occasionally need to be replaced by artificial implants. Tribology research considers the friction, wear and lubrication of natural and artificial joints including the wear debris from the joint implants, and the human body’s reaction to this.

Biomedical industry research areas include:

  • Contact lenses
  • Prosthetics
  • Replacement joints
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Dental fillings

Biomedical Industry includes the following:

Artificial Joints

Artificial Joints

Artificial joints typically comprise of two surfaces rubbing against each other, the core of tribology. Researchers conduct extensive work examining this interaction between parts and how they will act when in the body.

Biomaterials

Biomaterials

Biomaterials, be they artificial or natural, interact with biological systems. The study of this interaction is crucial in designing biomaterials that work harmoniously with the world around us.

Dental

Dental

Teeth interact daily with each other, with food and with your toothbrush. Understanding these contacts is important for designing everything from toothbrushes, to replacement teeth and implants.

Ocular

Ocular

The eye is a particularly delicate tribosystem and is an area of intense research. The contact lens-to-eye and to eye lid interfaces must be perfect to make sure they stay comfortable and in place all day.

Orthopaedics

Orthopaedics

A greater understanding of the body and how different joints work, how they degrade and how they can be damaged is being gained from tribological research into orthopaedics.

Pharma

Pharma

Tribology is a common research area in pharma for many reasons, an example is how pills and liquid medicines interact with the oesophagus, whether they need to coat it or slide smoothly through.

Instruments for the Biomedical Industry

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Biomedical Industry Articles & Papers

Paper

Effects of Solid Viscoelasticity on Elastohydrodynamic Lubrication of Point Contacts

Dry and lubricated highly deformed contacts appear in engineering, physics, and bio-(fluid)mechanics, with increasingly many applications where the soft materials …

Dry and lubricated highly deformed contacts appear in engineering, physics, and bio-(fluid)mechanics, with increasingly many applications where the soft materials can exhibit viscoelastic behaviour. In this work, the viscoelastic solid lubricated point contact problem has been studied theoretically and experimentally. An efficient visco-elastohydrodynamic lubrication (VEHL) numerical algorithm has been developed by implementing a novel viscoelastic deformation equation. The relevant dimensionless parameters of the VEHL problem are identified and a parameter study is presented showing the effect of solid viscoelasticy on the pressure and film thickness in the conjunction. In addition experimental results are presented for film thickness measurements in configurations of a PMMA ball rolling against a glass disc, and a steel ball rolling against a glass disc using optical interferometry. Finally the scaling of the pressure and film profiles in the inlet and outlet regions to the contact have been studied, investigating self similarity of the pressure and film solution in these regions. The results presented provide a good framework for the understanding and interpretation of viscoelastic solid effects on the film and pressure behavior in highly deformed (soft) lubricated contacts.

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Paper

Study of a Denatured Bovine Serum Albumin Solution Used as Lubricant in Tribological Testing of Total Knee Replacements

The lubricant solution used in tribological testing of total knee replacements must have a 20 g/L (ISO 14243-3:2014) overall value …

The lubricant solution used in tribological testing of total knee replacements must have a 20 g/L (ISO 14243-3:2014) overall value of protein concentration; bovine serums (BSs) are currently used as base fluids to prepare such solution. BSs normally have a higher concentration of bovine serum albumin (BSA) and minor concentration of globulins (α, β and γ). It has been observed that these proteins can be degraded and adsorbed onto the surface of the materials during tribological tests. Therefore, this research is aimed at analyzing the proteins of denatured lubricant BSA-based solutions having a protein concentration of 20 g/L, after 6 h of tribological testing under different conditions. The testing tribological parameters considered were the applied load (L), sliding-to-rolling ratio (SRR), and entrainment speed (Vm). Four combination of parameters were set: (a) 8N-18-80 mm/s, (b) 2N-18-80 mm/s, (c) 8N-0.2-20 mm/s, and (d) 2N-0.2-20 mm/s. All tests carried out at 37 °C. Samples of the solutions were analyzed before and after testing by UV-Vis spectroscopy (range 200-300 nm), Bradford and Ellman methods. The UV-Vis spectroscopy analyses allowed to determine possible change suffered of the aromatic residues (residues exposed or covered cause an increase or decrease of absorbance). Bradford analysis of solutions indicated similar content of proteins. Therefore, basic amino acid residues in proteins interact and reorganize. Moreover, disulfide bonds involved in tertiary structure of protein remains stable. Finally, COF (Coefficient friction) is dependent on both, protein state as well as the tribological parameters.

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