Tailoring the Nanostructure of Graphene as an Oil-Based Additive: toward Synergistic Lubrication with an Amorphous Carbon Film

XW Li and DK Zhang and XW Xu and KR Lee, ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, 12, 43320-43330 (2020).

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c12890

Graphene exhibits great potential as a lubricant additive to enhance the antifriction capacity of moving mechanical components in synergism with amorphous carbon (a-C) as a solid lubricant. However, it is particularly challenging for experiments to accurately examine the friction dependence on the physical nanostructure of the graphene additive and the corresponding interfacial reactions because of the inevitable complexity of the graphene structure fabricated in experiments. Here, we address this puzzle regarding the coeffect of the size and content of the graphene additive at the a-C interface using reactive molecular dynamics simulations. Results reveal that the friction-reducing behavior is more sensitive to graphene size than content. For each graphene structure, with increasing content, the friction coefficient always decreases first and then increases, while the friction behavior exhibits significant dependence on the graphene size when the graphene content is fixed. In particular, the optimized size and content of the graphene additive are suggested, in which an excellent antifriction behavior or even superlubricity can be achieved. Analysis of the friction interface indicates that with increasing graphene size, the dominated low-friction mechanism transforms from the high mobilities of the base oil and graphene additive in synergism to the passivation and graphene-induced smoothing of the friction interface. These outcomes disclose the roadmap for developing a robust solid-liquid synergy lubricating system.

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