New paper published on solid lubrication of carbon nanotubes in ACS Applied Nano Materials

New paper published in ACS Applied Nano Materials. Rolling bearings need lubrication to operate smoothly, but when traditional methods fail, multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) can come to the rescue. To understand how MWCNTs lubricate highly loaded contacts, we combined experimentation and large-scale molecular dynamics simulations. We applied tribometry to iron plates coated with different types of MWCNTs, discovering that both resulted in a steady-state coefficient of friction of 0.18. Wear tracks and tribolayers revealed a transformation process, resulting in layers of MWCNT fragments, iron oxide, and iron carbide nanoparticles embedded in an amorphous carbon matrix. We also found that MWCNTs slide against the ball interface to provide low carbon transfer to the counter body. Molecular dynamics simulations predicted a low-load regime that keeps MWCNTs intact, and a high-load regime that partially collapses the tube structure, forming a-C regions. We confirmed the results through transmission electron microscopy, and formulated a multistep lubrication mechanism for MWCNT coatings rubbing against alumina on an iron substrate. This work was done in collaboration with the teams of Frank Mücklich and Michael Moseler.