Applied Surface Science, Vol.252, No.9, 3316-3322, 2006
The effect of gamma irradiation and shelf aging in air on the oxidation of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene
This study has investigated the effect of shelf aging, for up to one year in air, on the properties of gamma-irradiated ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). A variety of techniques were used to characterize the properties of treated samples. Differential scanning calorimetery (DSC) was used to characterize the morphology. The extent of cross-linking in a polymer network was detected by swelling measurements. The durometer hardness test was used to measure the relative hardness of this material, and changes in density were also measured. Results from all these measurements were combined to explain the changes in the microstructure of the aged, irradiated URMWPE. This study shows that crystallinity is increased with radiation dose and with aging due to chain scission, which leads to a reduction in the molecular weight of the material. This allows the chains to rearrange to form crystalline regions. Positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy confirms these conclusions. Fractional free volumes have been deduced from lifetime parameters, which correlate with the data obtained by the other techniques. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.