This collection contains the Doctoral and Masters by Research theses produced within the department.
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Laser Surface Modification of NiTi for Medical ApplicationsRegarding the higher demand of the total joint replacement (TJR) and revision surgeries in recent years, an implant material should provide much longer lifetime without failure. Nickel titanium (NiTi) is the most popular shape memory alloy in the industry, especially in medical devices due to its unique mechanical properties such as pseudo-elasticity, damping capacity, shape memory and good biocompatibility. However, concerns of nickel ion release of this alloy still exist if it is implanted for a prolonged period of time. Nickel is well known for the possibility of causing allergic response and degeneration of muscle tissue as well as being carcinogenic for the human body beyond a certain threshold. Therefore, drastically improving the surface properties (e.g. wear resistance) of NiTi is a vital step for its adoption as orthopaedic implants. To overcome the above-mentioned risks, different surface treatment techniques have been proposed and investigated, such as Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD), Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD), ion implantation, plasma spraying, etc. Yet all of these techniques have similar limitations such as high treatment temperature, poor metallurgical bonding between coated film and substrate, and lower flexibility and efficiency. As a result, laser gas nitriding would be an ideal treatment method as it could overcome these drawbacks. Moreover, the shape memory effect and pseudo-elasticity of NiTi from a reversible phase transformation between the martensitic phase and the austenitic phase are very sensitive to heat. Hence, NiTi implant is subjected to the following provisions of the thermo-mechanical treatment process, and this implant provides desired characteristics. It is important to suggest a surface treatment, which would not disturb the original build-in properties. As a result, the low-temperature methods for substrate have to be employed on the surface of NiTi. This present study aims to investigate the feasibility of applying diffusion laser gas nitriding technique to improve the wettability and wear resistance of NiTi as well as establish the optimization technique. The current report summaries the result of laser nitrided NiTi by continuous-wave (CW) fibre laser in nitrogen environment. The microstructure, surface morphology, wettability, wear resistance of the coating layer has been analysed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffractometry (XRD), sessile drop technique, 3-D profile measurement and reciprocating wear test. The resulting surface layer is free of cracks, and the wetting behaviour is better than the bare NiTi. The wear resistance of the optimised nitride sample with different hatch patterns is also evaluated using reciprocating wear testing against ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) in Hanks’ solution. The results indicate that the wear rates of the nitride samples and the UHMWPE counter-part were both significantly reduced. It is concluded that the diffusion laser gas nitriding is a potential low-temperature treatment technique to improve the surface properties of NiTi. This technique can be applied to a femoral head or a bone fixation plates with relatively large surface area and movable components.