Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Diamonds in the crush

14.08.2014

Theoretical simulations reveal how nanoscale lubricating systems can ease friction between surfaces cMain Contentoated with diamond-like carbon

Diamond-like-carbon (DLC) coatings are an innovative technology, exhibiting the twin properties of mechanical toughness and ultralow friction. These features, which are desirable in abrasive environments, have led to the widespread adoption of DLC films in microelectromechanical systems, such as hard disk drives.


Device longevity can be improved through use of computer models that optimize the friction properties of diamond-like coatings used in hard disk drives.

© Janka Dharmasena/iStock/Thinkstock

But because these coatings contain amorphous carbon atoms that produce rough, nanoscale textures, it is difficult to optimize their friction properties using classical theories designed for macroscopic objects.

By performing atom-level simulations of nanoscale friction, Ling Dai and co-workers from the A*STAR Institute of High Performance Computing in Singapore have now uncovered critical clues for designing better systems to lubricate and protect DLC coatings (1).

Perfluoropolyether (PFPE) is a Teflon-like polymer that is commonly sandwiched between DLC-coated substrates to reduce friction and protect against damage. Understanding the friction mechanisms between these ultrathin films is tricky; these materials have contrasting hard and soft mechanical properties, and the sandwich arrangement obscures any direct observation of atomic structure and activity.

To better understand how nanoscale lubrication works in microdevices, the researchers constructed an atomic DLC–PFPE–DLC triple layer using a three-dimensional computer modeling program. They set one DLC slab as a substrate and the other as a ‘slider’.

They then used molecular dynamics techniques to simulate how the lube film responds when the slider moves. However, it was challenging to describe the atomic interactions in this complex material, and so Dai’s team developed hybrid computations that combined several potential energy expressions to replicate the many-body forces in this system.

Simulating frictional motions at different speeds and PFPE film thicknesses revealed that the lubricating film behaves as a solid — the polymer retained its shape without deforming from internal shearing. However, the lubricating film displayed two distinct and competitive modes of motion at an interface: a ‘stick–slide’ action that produced jerky, stepwise displacements, and a continuous motion that caused the film to slide with fluctuating velocities.

The team’s analysis showed that these two types of motions switched on or off depending on adhesion factors, such as thermal vibrations and the interfacial roughness.

After mapping the local friction forces along the sliding interfaces, the researchers discovered a way to link the law describing macroscopic friction to the nanoscale using a simple mathematical modification — a finding with practical importance for the surface engineering of DLC coatings.

“Because our model closely resembles the materials used in industrial applications, this work can serve as a guide for future experimental developments,” says Dai.

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of High Performance Computing

Reference

(1) Dai, L., Sorkin, V., Sha, Z. D., Pei, Q. X., Branico, P. S. & Zhang, Y. W. Molecular dynamics simulations on the frictional behavior of a perfluoropolyether film sandwiched between diamond-like-carbon coatings. Langmuir 30, 1573–1579 (2014).

A*STAR Research | Research SEA News
Further information:
http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/research/7016
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New method to identify microscopic failure
18.08.2016 | Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

nachricht Enhanced electron doping on iron superconductors discovered
16.08.2016 | Institute for Basic Science

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Streamlining accelerated computing for industry

PyFR code combines high accuracy with flexibility to resolve unsteady turbulence problems

Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...

Im Focus: X-ray optics on a chip

Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.

In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...

Im Focus: Piggyback battery for microchips: TU Graz researchers develop new battery concept

Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.

Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...

Im Focus: UCI physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature

Light particle could be key to understanding dark matter in universe

Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...

Im Focus: Wi-fi from lasers

White light from lasers demonstrates data speeds of up to 2 GB/s

A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

The energy transition is not possible without Geotechnics

25.08.2016 | Event News

New Ideas for the Shipping Industry

24.08.2016 | Event News

A week of excellence: 22 of the world’s best computer scientists and mathematicians in Heidelberg

12.08.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cell-compatible OLEDs for use with patients

29.08.2016 | Medical Engineering

Symmetry crucial for building key biomaterial collagen in the lab

26.08.2016 | Health and Medicine

Volcanic eruption masked acceleration in sea level rise

26.08.2016 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>