Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) has been widely used in many fields due to its outstanding properties. However, it is virtually impossible to be processed by the conventional method due to its high molecular weight and very tight chain entanglement. To solve this problem, a new method was proposed in this article. Gamma ray irradiation was adopted to cause the oxidation degradation of UHMWPE. The degraded products which generated in situ and dispersed in UHMWPE evenly were utilized as self-lubricant and heat transfer intermediary. These low molecular weight fractions thus could improve the processability of UHMWPE. The effects of irradiation dose on the structure and properties of UHMWPE were studied by fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, gel content measurement, wide angle x-ray diffraction (WAXD), Haake torque rheometer, mechanical properties measurements and sliding wear tests. The experimental results showed that gamma ray irradiation caused oxidation degradation of UHMWPE. Under appropriate irradiation condition, the processability of UHMWPE could be improved substantially while most of its excellent properties could be kept. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011
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