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Superlubricity and Wearless Sliding in Diamondlike Carbon Films

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2011

Ali Erdemir
Affiliation:
Energy Technology Division Argonne National Laboratory Argonne, IL 60439
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Abstract

Diamondlike carbon (DLC) films have attracted great interest in recent years mainly because of their unusual optical, electrical, mechanical, and tribological properties. Such properties are currently being exploited for a wide range of engineering applications including magnetic hard disks, gears, sliding and roller bearings, scratch resistant glasses, biomedical implants, etc. Systematic studies on carbon-based materials in our laboratory have led to the development of a new class of amorphous DLC films that provide extremely low friction and wear coefficients of 0.001 to 0.005 and 10-11 to 10-10 mm3/N.m, respectively, when tested in inert-gas or high-vacuum environments. These films were produced in highly hydrogenated gas discharge plasmas by a plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition process at room temperature. The carbon source gases used in the deposition of these films included methane, acetylene, and ethylene. Tribological studies in our laboratory have established a very close correlation between the composition of the plasmas and the friction and wear coefficients of the resultant DLC films. Specifically, the friction and wear coefficients of DLC films grown in plasmas with higher hydrogen-to-carbon ratios were much lower than films derived from source gases with lower hydrogen-to-carbon ratios. Fundamental tribological and surface analytical studies have led us to conclude that hydrogen (within the film, as well as on the sliding surfaces) is extremely important for the superlubricity and wearless sliding behavior of these films. Based on these studies, a mechanistic model is proposed to explain the superlow friction and wear properties of the new DLC films.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2002

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