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Metal release from stainless steel and CoCrMo alloys in protein-rich environments – effects of protein aggregation, friction, and irradiation

Time: Thu 2020-10-22 14.00

Location:, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Chemistry

Doctoral student: Zheng Wei , Yt- och korrosionsvetenskap

Opponent: Doktor Daniel Klint, Alfa Laval

Supervisor: Docent Yolanda Hedberg, Yt- och korrosionsvetenskap; Inger Odnevall Wallinder, Materialvetenskap, Materialvetenskap

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Highly corrosion-resistant alloys are used in sensitive environments such as the human body and food environments. However, even tiny amounts of released metals from these surfaces could potentially cause adverse effects. It is hence important to study the biointerface between corrosion-resistant alloys and protein-rich environments. This licentiate thesis focused on the metal release processes for stainless steels and cobalt-chromium-molybdenum (CoCrMo) alloys in different protein-rich environments. It aimed at investigating the effect of protein displacement (Vroman effect), gamma irradiation, and friction on the metal release processes. Trace metal analysis was the main tool, combined with other solution analytical tools, electrochemical methods, and surface sensitive techniques.

The effect of gamma irradiation, of relevance for cancer radiotherapy, on metal release from CoCrMo and stainless steel 316L was investigated in Paper I. The effect was minor, however the released amount of metals increased after irradiation causing an enhanced surface passivation effect. Whether the displacement of surface proteins (Vroman effect) was playing a role on the metal release and corrosion processes of stainless steels 316L and 303, and of CoCrMo, was investigated in Papers II and III. A Vroman effect influencing the metal release could be observed for stainless steel 316L, but not for CoCrMo and stainless steel grade 303. However, the displacement of the smaller protein bovine serum albumin (BSA) from the surface by the larger protein fibrinogen (Fbn) was observed for both stainless steel grades. The Vroman effect also caused a higher corrosion susceptibility of stainless steel 303, probably due to a thicker layer or patches of adsorbed Fbn. Most probably, protein aggregation and precipitation caused an underestimation of the extent of metal release, especially in the case of CoCrMo. Protein aggregation and precipitation were significantly observed in all studies, especially for solutions with high protein concentrations (Papers II-IV). The effect of friction, by using different setups (stirring with physical contact and sliding in a pin-on-disk machine), on metal release from stainless steel 316L and CoCrMo was investigated in Papers II and IV. Friction induced an increased extent of metal release, increased protein aggregation and precipitation, and enhanced metal precipitation. A combined friction and complexation effect was observed for stainless steel 316L, resulting in an etching effect and relatively high amounts of released metals. Due to enhanced precipitation effects and the experimental setup, it is recommended to strongly consider protein aggregation and metal precipitation events in systems where this could be expected and where friction is present. Otherwise, there is a risk to strongly underestimate the extent of metal release in these protein-rich environments.