Tribology Letters

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 281–301 | Cite as

Boron in Tribology: From Borates to Ionic Liquids

  • Faiz Ullah Shah
  • Sergei Glavatskih
  • Oleg N. Antzutkin
Review Paper


Boron compounds are widely used in a range of tribological applications such as friction modifiers, antioxidants, antiwear additives, and in many cases as environmentally friendly lubricants. The chemical nature and structure of boron compounds provide multifunctionality. They are used as (1) solid lubricants such as boric acid and hexagonal boron nitride, (2) liquid lubricants such as ionic liquids, (3) lubricant additives such as borate derivatives of various organic and inorganic compounds, and (4) coatings such as cubic boron nitride and different metal borides. Boron is also one of the most favorable elements for coatings and thin films in biotribological and biomedical applications. This review outlines the growing role of boron in lubrication over the past several decades, summarizes the main findings, and identifies future challenges related to boron chemistry.


Boron compounds Lubricants Additives to lubricants Friction and wear Ionic liquids Greases 





Boron-based dialkyldithiophosphate








Boron-based dithiocarbamate


Molybdenum dithiocarbamate


Base oil




Boric oxide


Boron nitride


Boric acid




















Wear scar diameter


Diamond-like carbon


Ionic liquids


Room temperature ionic liquids


Hydrofluoric acid


Halogen-free chelated orthoborate ionic liquids


Bis(mandelato)borate anion


Bis(salicylato)borate anion


Bis(oxalato)borate anion


Bis(malonato)borate anion


Tributyloctylphosphonium cation


Tributyltetradecylphosphonium cation


Trihexyltetradecylphosphonium cation


1-Ethyl-2,3-dimethylimidazolium cation


Hexafluorophosphate anion


Tetrafluoroborate anion


Bis[trifluoromethylsulfonyl]imide anion


X-rays photoelectron spectroscopy


Energy dispersive spectroscopy


Nuclear magnetic resonance



The financial support provided by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Foundation in memory of J. C. and Seth Kempe, the Swedish Government Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA), and Luleå University of Technology is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Faiz Ullah Shah
    • 1
  • Sergei Glavatskih
    • 2
    • 3
  • Oleg N. Antzutkin
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Chemistry of InterfacesLuleå University of TechnologyLuleåSweden
  2. 2.Machine DesignKTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical Construction and ProductionGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  4. 4.Department of PhysicsUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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