Formation and Nature of Carbon-Containing Tribofilms

Hongxing Wu, Arman Mohammad Khan, Blake Johnson, Kiran Sasikumar, Yip Wah Chung*, Q. Jane Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Minimizing friction and wear at a rubbing interface continues to be a challenge and has resulted in the recent surge toward the use of coatings such as diamond-like carbon (DLC) on machine components. The problem with the coating approach is the limitation of coating wear life. Here, we report a lubrication approach in which lubricious, wear-protective carbon-containing tribofilms can be self-generated and replenishable, without any surface pretreatment. Such carbon-containing films were formed under modest sliding conditions in a lubricant consisting of cyclopropanecarboxylic acid as an additive dissolved in polyalphaolefin base oil. These tribofilms show the same Raman D and G signatures that have been interpreted to be due to the presence of graphite- or DLC films. Our experimental measurements and reactive molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate that these tribofilms are in fact high-molecular weight hydrocarbons acting as a solid lubricant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16139-16146
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • DLC film
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • carbon tribofilm
  • friction polymer
  • lubricant additive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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