Fabrication and evaluation of SixNy coatings for total joint replacements

  • J. OlofssonEmail author
  • M. Pettersson
  • N. Teuscher
  • A. Heilmann
  • K. Larsson
  • K. Grandfield
  • C. Persson
  • S. Jacobson
  • H. Engqvist


Wear particles from the bearing surfaces of joint implants are one of the main limiting factors for total implant longevity. Si3N4 is a potential wear resistant alternative for total joint replacements. In this study, SixNy-coatings were deposited on cobalt chromium-discs and Si-wafers by a physical vapour deposition process. The tribological properties, as well as surface appearance, chemical composition, phase composition, structure and hardness of these coatings were analysed. The coatings were found to be amorphous or nanocrystalline, with a hardness and coefficient of friction against Si3N4 similar to that found for bulk Si3N4. The low wear rate of the coatings indicates that they have a potential as bearing surfaces of joint replacements. The adhesion to the substrates remains to be improved.


Wear Rate Silicon Nitride UHMWPE Wear Particle Total Joint Replacement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful for the financial support from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) Program in Materials for Nanoscale Surface Engineering (MS2E). Sandvik Materials Technology is recognised for providing substrate materials.


  1. 1.
    Sargeant A, Goswami T. Hip implants: paper V. Physiological effects. Mater Des. 2006;27:287–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Landgraeber S, von Knoch M, Löer F, Wegner A, Tsokos M, Hußmann B, Totsch M. Extrinsic and intrinsic pathways of apoptosis in aseptic loosening after total hip replacement. Biomaterials. 2008;29:3444–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bozic KJ, Ries MD. Wear and osteolysis in total hip arthroplasty. Semin Arthroplasty. 2005;16:142–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Balla VK, Xue W, Bose S, Bandyopadhyay A. Laser-assisted Zr/ZrO2 coating on Ti for load-bearing implants. Acta Biomater. 2009;5:2800–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Derbyshire B, Fisher J, Dowson D, Hardaker C, Brummitt K. Comparative study of the wear of UHMWPE with zirconia ceramic and stainless steel femoral heads in artificial hip joints. Med Eng Phys. 1994;16:229–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Sargeant A, Goswami T. Hip implants—paper VI—ion concentrations. Mater Des. 2007;28:155–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bizot P, Sedel L. Alumina bearings in hip replacement: theoretical and practical aspects. Oper Tech Orthop. 2001;11:263–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Willmann G, Früh HJ, Pfaff HG. Wear characteristics of sliding pairs of zirconia (Y-TZP) for hip endoprostheses. Biomaterials. 1996;17:2157–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jahanmir S. Friction and wear of ceramics. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc.; 1994. p. 313–7.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bal BS, Khandkar A, Lakshminarayanan R, Clarke I, Hoffman AA, Rahaman MN. Fabrication and testing of silicon nitride bearings in total hip arthroplasty: winner of the 2007 “HAP” Paul award. J Arthroplasty. 2009;24:110–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Olofsson J, Grehk TM, Berlind T, Persson C, Jacobson S, Engqvist H. Evaluation of silicon nitride as a wear resistant and resorbable alternative for total hip joint replacement. Biomatter. 2012;2:1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Guedes e Silva CC, Higa OZ, Bressiani JC. Cytotoxic evaluation of silicon nitride-based ceramics. Mater Sci Eng C. 2004;24:643–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Xu J, Kato K. Formation of tribochemical layer of ceramics sliding in water and its role for low friction. Wear. 2000;245:61–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Tomizawa H, Fischer TE. Friction and wear of silicon nitride and silicon carbide in water: hydrodynamic lubrication at low sliding speed obtained by tribochemical wear. ASLE Trans. 1986;30:41–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Österle W, Klaffke D, Griepentrog M, Gross U, Kranz I, Knabe C. Potential of wear resistant coatings on Ti-6Al-4 V for artificial hip joint bearing surfaces. Wear. 2008;264:505–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Yen SK, Guo MJ, Zan HZ. Characterization of electrolytic ZrO2 coating on Co–Cr–Mo implant alloys of hip prosthesis. Biomaterials. 2001;22:125–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Fisher J, Hu X, Tipper J, Stewart T, Williams S, Stone M, Davies C, Hatto P, Bolton J, Riley M, Hardaker C, Isaac G, Berry G, Ingham E. An in vitro study of the reduction in wear of metal-on-metal hip prostheses using surface-engineered femoral heads. Proc Inst Mech Eng. 2002;216:219–30.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Williams S, Tipper JL, Ingham E, Stone MH, Fisher J. In vitro analysis of the wear, wear debris and biological activity of surface-engineered coatings for use in metal-on-metal total hip replacements. Proc Inst Mech Eng. 2003;217:155–63.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Wang RR, Welsch GE, Monteiro O. Silicon nitride coating on titanium to enable titanium–ceramic bonding. J Biomed Mater Res. 1999;46:262–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Matsuoka M, Isotani S, Sucasaire W, Zambom LS, Ogata K. Chemical bonding and composition of silicon nitride films prepared by inductively coupled plasma chemical vapor deposition. Surf Coat Technol. 2010;204:2923–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Qian F, Temmel G, Schnupp R, Ryssel H. Thin stoichiometric silicon nitride prepared by r.f. reactive sputtering. Microelectron Reliab. 1999;39:317–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Lattemann M, Nold E, Ulrich S, Leiste H, Holleck H. Investigation and characterisation of silicon nitride and silicon carbide thin films. Surf Coat Technol. 2003;174–175:365–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ku S-L, Lee C-C. Surface characterization and properties of silicon nitride films prepared by ion-assisted deposition. Surf Coat Technol. 2010;204:3234–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Heimann RB. Thermal spraying of silicon nitride coatings using highly accelerated precursor powder particles. Surf Coat Technol. 2010;205:943–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Perdew JP, Wang Y. Accurate and simple analytic representation of the electron–gas correlation energy. Phys Rev B. 1992;45:13244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Monkhorst HJ, Pack JD. On special points for brillouin zone integrations. Phys Rev B. 1976;13:5188–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Oliver WC, Pharr GM. An improved technique for determining hardness and elastic modulus using load and displacement sensing indentation experiments. J Mater Res. 1992;7:1564–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Czichos H, Becker S, Lexow J. International multilaboratory sliding wear tests with ceramics and steel. Wear. 1989;135:171–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Johnson KL. Contact mechanics. Cambridge: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge; 1985. p. 90–104.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    ASTM and Standards. Standard test for wear testing of polymeric materials used in total joint prostheses. ASTM Int. F 732-00; (2003).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    International Centre for Diffraction Data, Reference files: Cobalt PDF no. 15-0806.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    International Centre for Diffraction Data, Reference files: Chromium PDF no. 88-2323.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    International Centre for Diffraction Data, Reference files: Cobalt Molybdenum PDF no. 29-0488.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Li G, Li Y, Li G. Crystallization of amorphous Si3N4 and superhardness effect in HfC/Si3N4 nanomultilayers. Appl Surf Sci. 2011;257:5799–802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Kim Y-HA, Ritchie A, Hardaker C. Surface roughness of ceramic femoral heads after in vivo transfer of metal: correlation to polyethylene wear. J Bone Joint Surg. 2005;87:577–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Fisher J, Jennings L, Galvin A. Wear of highly crosslinked polyethylene against cobalt chrome and ceramic femoral heads. In: Benazzo F, Falez F, Dietrich M, editors. Bioceramics and alternative bearings in joint arthroplasty. Dramstadt: Steinkopff Verlag; 2006. p. 185–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Klug DHP, Alexander LE. X-ray diffraction procedures for polycrystalline and amorphous materials. New York: Wiley. Inc; 1954. p. 491.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Karlsson L, Hultman L, Sundgren JE. Influence of residual stresses on the mechanical properties of TiCxN1-x (x = 0, 0.15, 0.45) thin films deposited by arc evaporation. Thin Solid Films. 2000;371:167–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Wen M, Meng QN, Yu WX, Zheng WT, Mao SX, Hua MJ. Growth, stress and hardness of reactively sputtered tungsten nitride thin films. Surf Coat Technol. 2010;205:1953–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Nordling L, Östeman J. Physics handbook for science and engineering. Vol. 5. Lund: Studentlitteratur; 1980.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Wiklund U, Gunnars J, Hogmark S. Influence of residual stresses on fracture and delamination of thin hard coatings. Wear. 1999;232:262–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Mazzocchi M, Gardini D, Traverso P, Faga M, Bellosi A. On the possibility of silicon nitride as a ceramic for structural orthopaedic implants. Part II: chemical stability and wear resistance in body environment. J Mater Sci Mater Med. 2008;19:2889–901.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Spriano S, Vernè E, Faga MG, Bugliosi S, Maina G. Surface treatment on an implant cobalt alloy for high biocompatibility and wear resistance. Wear. 2005;259:919–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Affatato S, Spinelli M, Zavalloni M, Mazzega-Fabbro C, Viceconti M. Tribology and total hip joint replacement: current concepts in mechanical simulation. Med Eng Phys. 2008;30:1305–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Olofsson
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Pettersson
    • 1
  • N. Teuscher
    • 2
  • A. Heilmann
    • 2
  • K. Larsson
    • 3
  • K. Grandfield
    • 1
  • C. Persson
    • 1
  • S. Jacobson
    • 1
  • H. Engqvist
    • 1
  1. 1.Applied Materials ScienceUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWMHalleGermany
  3. 3.Materials ChemistryUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations