Transient Nanoscale Tribofilm Growth: Analytical Prediction and Measurement

Leighton, Michael, Morris, Nick and Rahnejat, Homer orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2257-7102 (2021) Transient Nanoscale Tribofilm Growth: Analytical Prediction and Measurement. Applied Sciences, 11 (13). e5890.

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A new method for the simultaneous in situ measurement and characterisation of molybdenum-based tribofilms is presented, based on lateral force microscopy. The simultaneity of measurements is crucial for a fundamental understanding of the tribochemical phenomena. A new analytical method is also presented, which combines a BET multi-layer adsorption/desorption model for boundary-active lubricant species-surface combination with the modified shear-promoted thermal activation Arrhenius equation. Therefore, the expounded method integrates the mechanical, physical and chemical aspects of the adsorption-bonding process as a detailed multi-step phenomenon. The method provides detailed explanations of the measured tribofilm growth, in a fundamental manner, not hitherto reported in the literature. Therefore, the combined experimental methodology and modelling approach provides a significant advance in the understanding of tribofilm formation. Furthermore, the developed model has the potential to explain the behaviour of many complex lubricant formulations and the resulting multi-species tribofilms, generated through synergistic and/or antagonistic constituent adsorption and shear-promoted activation.

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