Author(s): Tevet O, VonHuth P, PopovitzBiro R, Rosentsveig R, Wagner HD,
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Abstract Inorganic nanoparticles of layered [two-dimensional (2D)] compounds with hollow polyhedral structure, known as fullerene-like nanoparticles (IF), were found to have excellent lubricating properties. This behavior can be explained by superposition of three main mechanisms: rolling, sliding, and exfoliation-material transfer (third body). In order to elucidate the tribological mechanism of individual nanoparticles in different regimes, in situ axial nanocompression and shearing forces were applied to individual nanoparticles using a high resolution scanning electron microscope. Gold nanoparticles deposited onto the IF nanoparticles surface served as markers, delineating the motion of individual IF nanoparticle. It can be concluded from these experiments that rolling is an important lubrication mechanism for IF-WS(2) in the relatively low range of normal stress (0.96 ± 0.38 GPa). Sliding is shown to be relevant under slightly higher normal stress, where the spacing between the two mating surfaces does not permit free rolling of the nanoparticles. Exfoliation of the IF nanoparticles becomes the dominant mechanism at the high end of normal stress; above 1.2 GPa and (slow) shear; i.e., boundary lubrication conditions. It is argued that the modus operandi of the nanoparticles depends on their degree of crystallinity (defects); sizes; shape, and their mechanical characteristics. This study suggests that the rolling mechanism, which leads to low friction and wear, could be attained by improving the sphericity of the IF nanoparticle, the dispersion (deagglomeration) of the nanoparticles, and the smoothness of the mating surfaces.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Powder Metallurgy & Mining