Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 1045–1058 | Cite as

Formation of UHMWPE polymeric transfer films on sliding glass counterfaces: early and steady-state wear studied by transmission electron microscopy

  • G. C. Ruben
  • T. A. Blanchet
  • F. E. Kennedy


At a temperature of 30°C polymeric transfer films were generated on glass counterfaces during small-amplitude oscillatory sliding contact with an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) pin under a constant load of 6.5 MPa. Early discontinuous and continuous (steady-state) transfer films were studied with vertical platinum-carbon replication and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Nanometre-scale UHMWPE deposits in these transfer films have been visualized for the first time. Nanometre-scale particles averaging 20.6 ±6.3nm (5–40nm) were deposited on glass in the early stages of UHMWPE film transfer. After formation of a continuous transfer film, UHMWPE particles of slightly smaller dimensions, 13.5±6.1 nm (2–41 nm), were deposited on the transfer film surface. In addition, micrometre-scale particles (0.1–6.4 μm) were found at the ends of the wear track. At high magnification, a fraction of the UHMWPE polymer chains observed in particle surfaces and in the transfer film surface nearby were not oriented in the sliding direction. Some crystal- or plate-like particles of UHMWPE were seen in the transfer film. Plate-like and micrometre-scale spherulitic inclusions were also identified on the mostly amorphous UHMWPE pin surface fractured at liquid nitrogen temperatures. The high frequency of nanometre-scale UHMWPE particles in contrast to the less numerous micrometre-scale deposits near the ends of the wear track suggests that the nanometre-scale deposits contribute significantly to transfer film formation and to the wear characteristics of UHMWPE.


UHMWPE Wear Track Liquid Nitrogen Temperature Transfer Film Wear Characteristic 
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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. C. Ruben
    • 1
  • T. A. Blanchet
    • 1
    • 2
  • F. E. Kennedy
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  2. 2.Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA

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