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Self-healing behavior of a polyelectrolyte-based lubricant additive for aqueous lubrication of oxide materials


We report on the self-healing behavior of a polyelectrolyte-based aqueous lubricant additive, poly(l-lysine)-graft-poly(ethylene glycol) (PLL-g-PEG), during aqueous lubrication of an oxide-based tribosystem. Combined pin-on-disk tribometry and fluorescence microscopy experiments have shown that stable lubricating performance was enabled by means of rapid healing of the worn tribopair surface by polymers dissolved in the adjoining bulk lubricant. This rapid ‘self-healing’ of PLL-g-PEG is attributed to electrostatic interactions between the polycationic poly(l-lysine) (PLL) backbone of the polymer and negatively charged oxide surface. In contrast, a similar healing effect was not readily achievable in the case of methoxy-poly(ethylene glycol)-trimethylsilylether (Sil-PEG), a lubricant additive that is covalently bonded to the surface prior to tribological stress.

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This research was financially supported by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research under Contract No. F49620-02-0346. The authors are grateful to Dr. Sonika Sharma for her help in the synthesis of fluorescently labeled PLL-g-PEG.

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Correspondence to N.D. Spencer.

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Lee, S., Müller, M., Heeb, R. et al. Self-healing behavior of a polyelectrolyte-based lubricant additive for aqueous lubrication of oxide materials. Tribol Lett 24, 217 (2006).

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  • self-healing
  • poly(l-lysine)-graft-poly(ethylene glycol)
  • methoxy-poly(ethylene glycol)-trimethylsilylether
  • aqueous lubrication
  • fluorescence microscopy