Tribological Properties of Nanoparticle-Based Lubrication Systems



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New nanomaterials and nanoparticles are currently under investigation as lubricants or lubricant additives due to their unusual properties compared to traditional materials. One of the objectives of this work is to investigate the tribological properties of these materials in relation to surface topography. Chemical etching and metal evaporation methods were employed to prepare surfaces with various topographies. Surfaces were sheared with the use of a nanotribometer and characterized with an atomic force and scanning electron microscopes. For a system consisting of ZnS nanowires dispersed in dodecane sheared across ductile surfaces, it was found that the geometry of the nanowire relative to the surface topography plays a significant role. Moreover, for brittle surfaces, it was found that beyond a certain roughness the frictional properties remain unchanged.

In addition, this work is also intended to explore novel lubricants with nanoparticle additives in efforts to control friction and wear. A system consisting of silica nanoparticles dispersed in ionic liquids was examined at various concentrations. It was found that an optimum concentration of nanoparticles exists and yields the best tribological properties.

Such work represents an important step in understanding the tribological properties of nanoparticle lubricant additives in general; one that may ultimately provide the guidelines necessary for designing novel, low-friction, and wear-controlling nanoparticle-based lubrication systems that minimize energy and material losses due to friction.