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Solid lubricants: a review

Abstract

The fundamental mechanisms of solid lubrication are reviewed with examples from well-known solid lubricants like the transition metal dichalcogenides and diamond-like carbon families of coatings. Solid lubricants are applied either as surface coatings or as fillers in self-lubricating composites. Tribological (friction and wear) contacts with solid lubricant coatings typically result in transfer of a thin layer of material from the surface of the coating to the counterface, commonly known as a transfer film or tribofilm. The wear surfaces can exhibit different chemistry, microstructure, and crystallographic texture from those of the bulk coating due to surface chemical reactions with the surrounding environment. As a result, solid lubricant coatings that give extremely low friction and long wear life in one environment can fail to do so in a different environment. Most solid lubricants exhibit non-Amontonian friction behavior with friction coefficients decreasing with increasing contact stress. The main mechanism responsible for low friction is typically governed by interfacial sliding between the worn coating and the transfer film. Strategies are discussed for the design of novel coating architectures to adapt to varying environments.

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Acknowledgements

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under Contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. The authors thank Joe Michael, Michael Rye, Paul Kotula, Dick Grant, and Bonnie McKenzie for their assistance in electron microscopy, and Jill Glass and Robert Grubbs for their critical reviews. TWS would also like to acknowledge partial support of this work from The National Science Foundation (Grant Numbers: CMMI-0700828 and CMMI-1100648).

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Correspondence to S. V. Prasad.

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T. W. Scharf—On sabbatical from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, The University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203-5310 USA.

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Scharf, T.W., Prasad, S.V. Solid lubricants: a review. J Mater Sci 48, 511–531 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10853-012-7038-2

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Keywords

  • Friction Coefficient
  • MoS2
  • Contact Stress
  • Solid Lubricant
  • Transfer Film