Date of Award

August 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Hugo Lopez


Joint replacement prosthesis is widely used in the biomedical field to provide a solution for dysfunctional human body joints. The demand for orthopedic knee and hip implants motivate scientists and manufacturers to develop novel materials or to increase the life of service and efficiency of current materials. Cobalt-base alloys have been investigated by various researchers for biomedical implantations. When these alloys contain Chromium, Molybdenum, and Carbon, they exhibit good tribological and mechanical properties, as well as excellent biocompatibility and corrosion resistance.

In this study, the microstructure of cast Co-Cr-Mo-C alloy is purposely modified by inducing rapid solidification through fusion welding processes and solution annealing heat treatment (quenched in water at room temperature. In particular the effect of high cooling rates on the athermal phase transformation FCC(Ɣ)↔HCP(ε) on the alloy hardness and corrosion resistance is investigated.

The Co-alloy microstructures were characterized using metallography and microscopy techniques. It was found that the as cast sample typically dendritic with dendritic grain sizes of approximately 150 µm and containing Cr-rich coarse carbide precipitates along the interdendritic boundaries. Solution annealing gives rise to a refined microstructure with grain size of 30 µm, common among Co-Cr-Mo alloys after heat treating.

Alternatively, an ultrafine grain structure (between 2 and 10 µm) was developed in the fusion zone for specimens melted using Laser and TIG welding methods. When laser surface modification treatments were implemented, the developed solidification microstructure shifted from dendritic to a fine cellular morphology, with possible nanoscale carbide precipitates along the cellular boundaries. In turn, the solidified regions exhibited high hardness values (461.5HV), which exceeds by almost 110 points from the alloy in the as-cast condition.

The amount of developed athermal ɛ -martensite phase was determined using X-ray diffractrometry. It was found that the amount of ɛ -martensite increases significantly from 2% for the Laser surface processing to 13% in the as cast specimen, 24% in the annealed specimen, and 51% for the TIG surface processing. Moreover, the corrosion rate in Ringer solution was calculated by applying the Tafel extrapolation method on each alloy condition. The lowest corrosion rate (0.435 µm/year) was achieved in the Laser treated alloy and it is attributed to the lack of appreciable athermal ɛ -martensite. The highest corrosion rate (15.5 µm/year) was found to occur in the TIG treated alloy, which possesses the largest amount of ɛ -martensite.

In turn, this suggests that surface modification through melting induces variable amounts of athermal ɛ -martensite in the as-cast Co-Cr-Mo-C alloys. Apparently, rapid solidification of melted surfaces in the Co-alloy is highly effective in modifying the induced amounts of HCP phase, and hence, the exhibited properties.