, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 531-542
Date: 18 Nov 2012

EPR Study of γ-Irradiated UHMWPE Doped with Vitamin E: Assessment of Thermal Effects on the Organic Radicals During Vitamin E Diffusion

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Thermal effects on ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) residual radicals during the vitamin E diffusion process were studied in detail. Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) technique showed a significant reduction in concentrations of radiation-induced primary (alkyl (–CH2CH–CH2–), allyl (–CH2CH=CH–CH–CH2–) and polyenyl (–CH–[CH=CH–] m –) with m > 3) radicals for both control and vitamin E-doped samples. The concentrations of radiation-induced primary radicals (RIPRs) were found to decrease proportionally with the heat/diffusion time. While the EPR spectra of the control samples showed only polyethylene (PE) radicals, the spectra of vitamin E-doped samples were found to exhibit vitamin E radicals in addition to PE radicals. Of particular interest, the heat involved during vitamin E diffusion plays a significant role in reducing the radiation-induced primary radicals of UHMWPE. For 120 min of heat/diffusion time, the available quantity of primary radicals in control samples were found to be ~7.5 % of initial radicals. The leftover amounts of these primary radicals for vitamin E-doped samples were approximately ~10.0 %. In addition to this, EPR power saturation techniques were also used to assess the effects of initial heat/diffusion treatment on the oxygen-induced residual radicals (OIRRs): R1 (–CH–[CH=CH–] m –) with m > 3 and R2 (OCH–[CH=CH–] m –) with m = 2 or 3. It was found that the concentration of OIRRs also decreases proportionally with initial heat/diffusion time. The remaining amount of OIRRs relative to leftover RIPRs after heat/diffusion was found to be approximately 4.0 % in controls and was still found to be 10.0 % in vitamin E-doped UHMWPE. This may indicate that vitamin E slows down the oxidation processes, which may contribute to the strong oxidation resistance of vitamin E-doped UHMWPE.