Recent developments in the studies of micro-abrasion have resulted in the construction of mechanistic maps where the change in micro-abrasion is presented as a function of the main tribological parameters. However, in many practical situations where micro-abrasion occurs, the environment tends to be corrosive. In such cases, the interaction of micro-abrasion and corrosion is of interest because the combined interaction may lead to “synergistic” or “antagonistic” effects, where corrosion may have a deleterious or beneficial effect in modifying the mechanical properties of the surface. In this paper, the micro-abrasion of a Co-Cr specimen against an ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) ball was studied in Ringers solution. The effects of applied load at a range of electrochemical potentials were investigated. Atomic force and scanning electron microscopy techniques were used to identify the extent of wear and the role of the corrosion film on the micro-abrasion rate enabling the various wear, corrosion and the interactive effects to be evaluated for the system. The results showed that various micro-abrasion-corrosion mechanisms could be identified in active and passive conditions. These were used to generate micro-abrasion-corrosion mechanism maps showing the change in mechanism as functions of load and applied potential and the extent of interaction between the wear and the corrosion processes was demonstrated on such maps. Possible uses of the generic form of these maps to identify micro-abrasion-corrosion mechanisms in other bio-medical applications are addressed in this paper.

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