Baker, I., Sun, Y., Kennedy, F.E. et al. J Mater Sci (2010) 45: 969. doi:10.1007/s10853-009-4027-1
The wear of as-cast eutectic Al–Si was studied using pin-on-disk tribotests in two different environments, air and dry argon. The counterface in all tests was yttria-stabilized zirconia. It was found that wear of the Al–Si was reduced by about 60% by the removal of oxygen from the test environment. The zirconia counterfaces showed measurable wear after tests performed in air, while there was very little wear of the zirconia for tests conducted under argon. The near-surface regions of the Al–Si pins were examined using a transmission electron microscope (TEM), using specimens produced by focussed ion beam milling. The specimens that had been worn in air were characterized by a near-surface mechanically mixed layer containing a considerable amount of both aluminum oxide and zirconium oxide—the aluminum oxide particles had evidently acted as abrasive agents to remove material from the zirconia counterface. In contrast, TEM analysis of the Al–Si tested in argon showed little zirconium oxide in the near-surface regions.