A coupled contact model of cartilage lubrication in the mixed-mode regime under static compression

Jin Jing Liao, David W. Smith, Saeed Miramini, Bruce S. Gardiner, Lihai Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study presents a coupled cartilage contact model, in which the contact gap and cartilage tissue are modelled as two poroelastic systems, linked by pressure and normal flux continuity boundary conditions. Using a tibial plug under indentation as a proof-of-concept model, the predictions support the weeping lubrication theory under static compression. Specifically, the interstitial fluid would exude from the underlying cartilage into the contact gap to extend the mixed-mode duration by > 20-fold compared to a no fluid exudation counterpart. Moreover, the traditional contact model, that does not consider the contact gap and cartilage fluid exchange, potentially overestimates the interstitial fluid pressure compared to the proposed coupled model. Parametric studies suggest that the increasing viscosity of synovial fluid prolongs the gap fluid pressurisation, while increasing the asperity stiffness reduces the gap fluid pressure but increases contact gap height.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106185
JournalTribology International
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


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