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Joan and Paul Rubschlager Tribology Laboratory

The Tribology Laboratory, housed in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, supports the medical industry in finding solutions related to lubrication mechanisms of joints, causes of articular cartilage degradation, friction and biocompatibility of orthopedic prostheses. Our aim is to improve the understanding of surface-surface interactions to reduce friction and wear of natural and artificial joints. This includes developing more durable bearing surfaces to extend their useful lifespan in patients and test new surface treatments for orthopedic implants.

Tribology is the science of interacting surfaces in relative motion, and it studies friction, lubrication and wear.

The Tribology Laboratory works closely with the Motion Analysis, the Computational Biomechanics, the Implant Pathology and the Spine Biomechanics laboratories.

Learn more about the lab:


The Tribology Laboratory was founded as a laboratory to provide biomaterials testing for medical research over 20 years ago. Over time our capabilities have expanded into a wide range of tests related to evaluating the joint implants. Our research can be grouped in the following areas:

Wear and lubrication of artificial joint implants

Joint replacement procedures are currently carried out for hips, knees, shoulder, elbows, ankles and spinal disks. While most implants remain fully functional, with a survival rate of joint implants exceeding 90% after 17 years, nearly 10% of implants required revision surgery. Research on the lubrication and mechanical and chemical degradation are require to extend their implantation time.

Articular cartilage mechanics

The preservation of articular cartilage is highly dependent on maintaining its organized architecture. A fundamental understanding of articular cartilage mechanics is essential for aiding clinicians in enhancing the longevity of healthy joints and rehabilitating injured the development of promising treatment.

Periprosthetic joint infections (PJI)

Infection on and around an artificial implant prosthesis, such as knee or hip replacement surgery can be a devastating and costly complication. It is amongst the leading causes of revised surgery and poor surgical outcomes in orthopedics.


New publications

  • Impergre A, Trunfio-Sfarghiu A-M, Wimmer MA, Evaluation of articular cartilage wear against pyrolytic carbon in the context of spherical interposition shoulder arthroplasty, Biotribology Journal, Volumes 33–34, 2023, 100237 Link
  • Hamilton JL, Vashi M, Kishen EB, Fogg LF, Wimmer MA, Balk RA. The Association of an Alpha-2 Adrenergic Receptor Agonist and Mortality in Patients with COVID-19. Front. Med. 2022 Jan; 8:797647 Link
  • Queiroz Neto M, Radice S, Hall DJ, Frisch NB, Mathew MT, Fischer A, Jacobs JJ, Pourzal J; Microstructure and electrochemical behavior of contemporary Ti6Al4V implant alloys. Journal of Bio- and Tribo-Corrosion 8, 26 (2022) Link

Past presentations

  • Koya T, Sato A, Oike J, Ota M, Izukash K, Okumo T, Yagura S, Yokohama, Okuma N, Kawashima F, Takagi H, Kanzaki K, Accuracy of the Component Alignment and Sizing in Total Knee Arthroplasty: Preoperative Templating and Postoperative Evaluation Using CT-Based 3D Pre-Operative Planning Software, 14th Biennial ISAKOS Congress, Boston, MA, June 18-21, 2023
  • Impergre A, Wimmer MA, Are sGAGs transferred onto the surface of hemiarthroplasty implants while rubbing against cartilage? 2023 Society For Biomaterials, San Diego April 19-22, 2023
  • Impergre A, Wimmer MA, Affinity of Phospholipids Vesicles with Pyrolytic Carbon Shoulder Implant” at the 243rd ECS Meeting - 18th International Symposium on Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC-XVIII), May 28-June 2, 2023, Boston, MA

Orthopaedic Research Society Annual Meeting, Dallas, TX, February 2023

  • AbuAlia MJ, Wimmer MA, Articular cartilage shear properties change with compression and are dependent on an intact superficial zone.
  • Markovics A, Hamilton JL, Della Fara G, AbuAlia MJ, Impergre A, Wimmer MA. Electrophoretic Deposition of Gentamicin Into Titanium Nanotubes to Prevent and Eradicate Periprosthetic Infection.

7th World Tribology Congress 2022, Lyon, France

  • Impergre A, Sfarghiu AM, Wimmer MA, Comparative study of pyrolytic carbon, zirconia-toughened alumina, and cobalt-alloy against cartilage: in vitro wear test with live tissue.
  • Fischer A (stepping in for Wimmer MA) Wear and Repassivation Rates of Orthopedic Implants in Simulated Healthy and Inflammatory Synovial Fluids.
  • Fischer A, Wear scars do not represent wear loss – a fretting corrosion example.
  • Impergre A (stepping in for Wimmer MA) Fullam S, Schmid T, Yuh C, Witt B, Wimmer MA, Zinc Distribution in Articular Cartilage and Potential Implications on Structural Role.

33rd Annual Congress of International Society for Technology in Arthroplasty, Maui, HI, USA

  • Hamilton J, Markovics A, Della Fara G, Impergre A, Wimmer MA, Use of Electrophoretic Deposition in the Hospital Setting to Coat Medical Implants with Therapeutic agents to Prevent or Treat Biomaterial Associated Infection.
  • Impergre A, Wimmer MA, Ben Trad L, Bernoud-Hubac N, Sfarghiu AM, Tribological Evaluation of a Pyrolytic Carbon Interposition Implant Against Live Cartilage in Comparison with Alumina Ceramic and CoCrMo-Alloy.
  • Della Fara G, Markovics A, Hamilton JL, Wimmer MA. Electrophoretic Deposition of Gentamicin and Chitosan Into Titanium Nanotubes to Prevent Periprosthetic Joint Infection.


Research Team

Our team consist of experts in materials, mechanics, chemistry, and biology.


The tribology laboratory is equipped with a full range of friction/wear tests and joint simulators that simulate the forces and fluid environment of joints. Researchers also have the ability to perform electrochemical and tribocorrosion tests to study the corrosion resistance of orthopedic implants. Various surface characterizations and analyses are available to complete the evaluation of the in vivo behavior of orthopedic implants and the failure of joints in the human body.

The tribology laboratory also has the capability to perform friction tests in contact with cells/tissues such as cartilage explants. The biocompatibility or biological response of tissues undergoing mechanical testing (micro-, nano- and macro-) is assessed and complemented by a variety of biochemistry techniques.

Our work

We gratefully acknowledge funding from philanthropy, industry, foundations, as well as federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Contact Us

Department of Orthopedics
RUSH University Medical Center
1611 W. Harrison St, Suite 204-205
Chicago, IL 60612

The group is always looking for PhD students and post-doctoral researchers. If you are interested in joining us and would like to find out about any current vacancies please contact Dr. Wimmer ( If you are interested in collaborating with us or joining our research team, please get in touch with a relevant staff member.