As the average age of us ""European nationals"" increases, the demand for major joint replacements is expected to rise in accordance. Although implants are considered an excellent solution to many health problems, any time a medical device is implanted in to one's body there is a high risk for infection not only in the short but in the medium term as well. Additionally, the long-term wear behaviour of the surfaces in contact significantly affects the life of implants. In this manner, there is a need for new multifunctional coatings. In comparison with other implant materials, tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C) has excellent blood and tissue biocompatibilities and therefore many artificial joints and cardiovascular implants are being coated today with ta-C materials. Recent studies have shown the possibility of incorporating certain toxic elements (e.g. Cu, Ag, or V) into hard carbon coatings with the idea of providing the implants with necessary infection resistance.
However, until now, these coatings could only be deposited either by hybrid pulsed laser deposition (PLD) techniques or by multi-step processes, making their manufacturing expensive and unrealistic. We propose to investigate the development, the mechanical properties and wear behaviour of heterophase ta-C: Me nanocomposite coatings deposited from two pulsed cathodic arc (PCA) plasma sources.
One of the advantages of this novel deposition method over hybrid PLD techniques is its potential application to large surface areas and a comparatively less expensive technology while producing an intense highly ionised plasma plume which is necessary for the deposition of the hard ta-C phase. After the deposition, glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy (GDOES) will be used to obtain a quick analysis of t he homogeneity of the metallic phase vs. depth allowing us to adjust the process parameters and improve the manufacture and design of novel ta-C: Me coatings.
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