Compositional Dependence of Polyacrylamide Hydrogel Abrasive Wear Resistance

Shabnam Z. Bonyadi, Alison C. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The structural and mechanical resemblance of hydrogels to cartilage makes them promising candidates for cartilage replacement in load-bearing joints. As with any sliding interface under high loads, the hydrogels in this application would be highly susceptible to wear. Although the fluid component of these biphasic materials mediates low-friction sliding, the hydrophilic polymer network of hydrogels can endure only a limited number of sliding cycles. In this work, a sandpaper-covered probe attached to a microtribometer with a reciprocating stage was used to wear polyacrylamide hydrogels with varying concentrations of polymers and cross-linkers. The wear volumes and surface features of the resulting wear scars were measured using a 3D laser scanning confocal microscope. The roughness of the wear scars and the friction coefficients during wear application increased with increasing cross-linker concentration. We calculated the wear rates for the different compositions and developed a relationship that connects the polymer and cross-linker concentrations to the wear rates. The wear rate scaled with the polymer concentration to the-2 power and with the cross-linker concentration to the 3/2 power. These results suggest that network flexibility through decreasing cross-linkers and network strength through increasing polymers are key elements of a hydrogel to reduce wear. With this relationship between the hydrogel composition and wear resistance, we can better predict the lifespan of hydrogels in different sliding applications and improve their design to be more resilient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5444-5451
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Polymer Materials
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 11 2020


  • durability
  • fatigue fracture
  • polyacrylamide hydrogels
  • profilometry
  • wear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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