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Photorheological fluids of azobenzene polymers for lubrication regulation

Abstract

Fluid viscosity is ubiquitous property and is of practical importance in intelligent fluids, industrial lubrication, and pipeline fluid transportation. Recently, there has been a surging interest in viscosity regulation. Here, we have developed a group of photorheological fluids by utilizing azobenzene polymers with a light-induced microstructure transformation. In this work, a photosensitive polymer with 4,4′-bis-hydroxyazobenzene as the main chain was designed and synthesized as a pivotal functional material. The sufficiently large structural difference under ultraviolet and near-infrared light makes it possible to regulate the viscosity of a polyethylene glycol solution. The viscosity of the photosensitive rheological fluids under ultraviolet light radiation is found to be up to 45.1% higher than that under near-infrared light radiation. To explore this intelligent lubricating technology, the friction regulation of ceramic sliding bearings was investigated utilizing photosensitive rheological fluids. Reversible friction regulation with a ratio of up to 3.77 has been achieved by the alternative irradiation of near-infrared and ultraviolet light, which can be attributed to the differences in mechanical properties and molecular structures under ultraviolet and near-infrared light according to both simulations and experiments. Such photorheological fluids will have promising applications in controllable lubrication, intelligent rheological fluids, and photosensitive dampers.

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Acknowledgements

This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51922058 and 51527901). We thank professor Shayu Li for the generous help on azobenzene polymer synthesis.

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Correspondence to Liran Ma or Yu Tian.

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Shuangxi TANG. He obtained his bachelor degree in 2017 from University of Science and Technology Beijing. Then he was a Ph.D. student at State Key Laboratory of Tribology of Tsinghua University. His research interests include lubrication mechanism and photorheological fluid.

Liran MA. She received her bachelor degree from Tsinghua University in 2005, and received her Ph.D. degree from Tsinghua University in 2010. Following a postdoctoral period at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, she is now working as an associate professor in State Key Laboratory of Tribology, Tsinghua University. Her interests in tribology have ranged from aqueous lubrication and hydration lubrication to the liquid/solid interface properties. She has published over 50 papers. Her work has been cited some 300 times. Her honors include the Hinwin Doctoral Dissertation Award (2011), the Maple Leaf Award for Outstanding Young Iridologists (2015), and Chang Jiang Scholars Program-Young Professor Award (2015).

Yu TIAN. He is professor and director of the State Key Laboratory of Tribology at Tsinghua University of China. He gained his bachelor and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering at Tsinghua University in 1998 and 2002, respectively. Subsequently he joined the State Key Laboratory of Tribology. He was a postdoc at the University of California, Santa Barbara with Professor Jacob Israelachvili from 2005 to 2007. His research interest is the science and technology at the interface of physics, materials, engineering, and biology to understand the physical laws of adhesion, friction, and rheology to implement technological inventions to benefit the society. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal papers. He has received the Ten Thousand People Leading Plan Innovation Leading Talents of China (2019), the Youth Science and Technology Award of China (2016), the Yangtze River Scholars Distinguished Professor (2015–2019), the National Natural Science Foundation for Distinguished Young Scientists of China (2014), the Wen Shizhu-Maple Award-Young Scholar Award (2012), the Young Scholar Achievement Award of the Society of Mechanical Engineering of China (2011), Outstanding Young Scholar Award of the Chinese Tribology Institute (2009), and the National Excellent Doctoral Dissertation of China (2004).

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Tang, S., Li, S., Ma, L. et al. Photorheological fluids of azobenzene polymers for lubrication regulation. Friction 10, 1078–1090 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40544-021-0529-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40544-021-0529-x

Keywords

  • photorheological fluids
  • viscosity
  • azobenzene polymer
  • lubrication