Poroelasticity and lubrication mechanisms of cartilage in natural synovial joints

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


In the most recent understanding of the lubrication mechanisms in natural synovial joints it remains uncertain as to how ultra-low friction is generated. This ultra-low friction facilitates high loading, dynamic shock response and minimal wear damage, whereby the cartilage material is poroelastic and fluid flows to and from the contacting interface during operation. Inspired by biology, engineers aim to design poroelastic bearings in which lubrication is boosted by the flow of fluid into and out of the contacting materials. It is this engineering challenge, to understand the combination of poroelasticity and lubrication in natural synovial joints, which inspires this project with the aim of developing a means by which ultra-low friction in contacts can be obtained by design.

There will be a range of modelling challenges to overcome during the project including anisotropic material properties, shear-thinning fluids, viscoelastic solids and lubricating films. Imaging techniques will be used to create representative geometries and open source software implemented to allow wide dissemination of the research. The models derived will feed into experimental validation which is concurrently being examined by the research team that this project is a part of. Ultimately this will allow engineers to explore the range of conditions under which poroelasticity improves bearing performance, investigate damage in cartilage and the link this has to pain and determine the limits of the continuum approach to poroelasticity in soft matter.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R513258/1 30/09/2018 29/09/2023
2277372 Studentship EP/R513258/1 30/09/2019 30/08/2023 Craig Thomas