, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 192–198 | Cite as

Water-based superlubricity in vacuum

  • Chen Xiao
  • Jinjin Li
  • Lei Chen
  • Chenhui Zhang
  • Ningning Zhou
  • Tao Qing
  • Linmao QianEmail author
  • Jiyang Zhang
  • Jianbin Luo
Open Access
Short Communication


This study achieved water-based superlubricity with the lubrication of H3PO4 solution in vacuum (highest vacuum degree <10–4 torr) for the first time by performing a pre-running process in air before running in vacuum. The stable water-based superlubricity was sustainable in vacuum (0.02 torr) for 14 h until the test was stopped by the user for non-experimental factor. A further analysis suggested that the superlubricity may be attributed to the phosphoric acid–water network formed in air, which can efficiently lock water molecules in the liquid lubricating film even in vacuum owing to the strong hydrogen bond interaction. Such capability to lock water is strongly affected by the strength of hydrogen bond and environmental conditions. The realization of water-based superlubricity with H3PO4 solution in vacuum can lead to its application in space environment.


friction water-based superlubricity vacuum phosphoric acid 



The authors are grateful for the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51527901, 51405256), and Self-developed Project of State Key Laboratory of Traction Power (No. 2017TPL_Z02).

Supplementary material

40544_2018_212_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (935 kb)
Water-based superlubricity in vacuum


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Copyright information

© The author(s) 2018

Open Access: The articles published in this journal are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chen Xiao
    • 1
  • Jinjin Li
    • 2
  • Lei Chen
    • 1
  • Chenhui Zhang
    • 2
  • Ningning Zhou
    • 3
  • Tao Qing
    • 3
  • Linmao Qian
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jiyang Zhang
    • 3
  • Jianbin Luo
    • 2
  1. 1.Tribology Research Institute, State Key Laboratory of Traction PowerSouthwest Jiaotong UniversityChengduChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of TribologyTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Beijing Key Laboratory of Long-life Technology of Precise Rotation and Transmission MechanismsBeijing Institute of Control EngineeringBeijingChina

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