Importance of the catalytic effect of the substrate in the functionality of lubricant additives: the case of molybdenum dithiocarbamates

S Peeters and C Charrin and I Duron and S Loehle and B Thiebaut and MC Righi, MATERIALS TODAY CHEMISTRY, 21, 100487 (2021).

DOI: 10.1016/j.mtchem.2021.100487

Molybdenum dithiocarbamates (MoDTCs) are lubricant additives very efficient in reducing the friction of steel, and they are used in a number of industrial applications. The functionality of these additives is ruled by the chemical interactions occurring at the buried sliding interface, which are of key importance for the improvement of the lubrication performance. Yet, these tribochemical processes are very difficult to monitor in real time. Ab initio molecular dynamics simulations are the ideal tool to shed light on such a complicated reactivity. In this work, we perform ab initio simulations, both in static and tribological conditions, to understand the effect of surface oxidation on the tribochemical reactivity of MoDTC, and we find that when the surfaces are covered by oxygen, the first dissociative steps of the additives are significantly hindered. Our preliminary tribological tests on oxidized steel discs support these results. Bare metallic surfaces are necessary for a stable adsorption of the additives, their quick decomposition, and the formation of a durable MoS2 tribolayer. This work demonstrates the importance of the catalytic role of the substrate and confirms the full capability of the computational protocol in the pursuit of materials and compounds more efficient in reducing friction. (C) 2021 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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