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Title: Understanding Tribofilm Formation Mechanisms in Ionic Liquid Lubrication

Ionic liquids (ILs) have recently been developed as a novel class of lubricant anti-wear (AW) additives, but the formation mechanism of their wear protective tribofilms is not yet well understood. Unlike the conventional metal-containing AW additives that self-react to grow a tribofilm, the metal-free ILs require a supplier of metal cations in the tribofilm growth. The two apparent sources of metal cations are the contact surface and the wear debris, and the latter contains important ‘historical’ interface information but often is overlooked. We correlated the morphological and compositional characteristics of tribofilms and wear debris from an IL-lubricated steel–steel contact. In conclusion, a complete multi-step formation mechanism is proposed for the tribofilm of metal-free AW additives, including direct tribochemical reactions between the metallic contact surface with oxygen to form an oxide interlayer, wear debris generation and breakdown, tribofilm growth via mechanical deposition, chemical deposition, and oxygen diffusion.
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [1]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Materials Science & Technology Division
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Center for Nanophase Materials Science (CNMS)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies Office (EE-3V)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; Engineering; Materials science
OSTI Identifier: