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An x-ray of a hip replacement

We’re working on a new sugar-containing polymer that could one day help repair artificial joint implants like hip replacements.

Researchers in Durham’s Department of Chemistry are part of an international team of chemists and engineers helping to develop this new way of patching up the damage caused to low-friction surfaces.

Hip and knee joints in our bodies stand up to decades of wear and tear thanks to the cartilage being repaired and replaced constantly.

Artificial joints

The coating made by the team, including our researchers, works in a similar way, but is compatible with artificial joints.

Taking their inspiration from the way cartilage lubricates joints in humans, they’ve found that rings of sugar can help a polymer coating latch on to surfaces and repair damage.

The new coating coaxes a layer of water to the surface, making it slippery and protecting it as it’s knocked or rubbed in the same way that cartilage uses water to make surfaces in the body slick to reduce wear and tear.

Machine energy waste

The researchers say that because their coating is biocompatible it could eventually be used in medical implants to extend the life-span of artificial joints.

The coating could also eventually be used to reduce friction-caused energy waste in cars and other machinery, making them more efficient.

Find out more

  • You can read more about this research in the journal Chem.