Diamond has many superior, desired characteristics of implant materials such as low friction, high wear and corrosion resistance, and well bonding surface to bone. The potential of diamond for total hip replacement implants was studied in the form of amorphous diamond coatings on conventional metal implant materials. Amorphous diamond coatings (sp3 bonding fraction 80%, thickness 0.2 to 10 μm) were deposited on stainless steel AISI316L, Ti6AI4V, and CoCrMo alloys using filtered pulsed plasma arc discharge method. Superior attachment of coatings to the implant materials was achieved by using high energy plasma beams to deposit amorphous diamond and proper intermediate layers. Previously it was shown that these coatings are biocompatible causing no local tissue reactions. Tribologic studies using a pin on disk apparatus with coated or uncoated implant materials in 1 wt.% NaCl distilled water were performed. A simplified hip joint simulator was used for preliminary testing of metal on polyethylene and metal on metal artificial hip joints modified with amorphous diamond coating. The average coefficients of friction were typically in the range of 0.03 to 0.11 for amorphous diamond coated materials. In the case of metal on metal hip implants, the average friction during initial running in period was improved (coefficient of friction = 0.07) compared with the same metal on metal pair (coefficient of friction = 0.22) and sliding was significantly smoother. In pin on disk wear tests, the average wear factors obtained were 140–10–6, 5.0–10–6, and ±0.1.10–6 mm3/Nm for the pairs of AISI316L, CoCrMo, and the same materials with amorphous diamond coating. The corrosion rates of these implant materials in 10 wt.% HCl solution were decreased by a factor of 10,000 to 15,000 and any damage of the coatings was not observed in 6 months. The results of the tests show that in all the combinations studied, amorphous diamond coating improved definitely the wear and corrosion resistance compared with the uncoated materials.
Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.