Applied Surface Science, Vol.434, 21-27, 2018
Friction-induced nano-structural evolution of graphene as a lubrication additive
Graphene has attracted enormous attention in the field of lubrication based on its excellent physical and chemical properties. Although many studies have obtained thermally or chemically-exfoliated graphene and investigated their wide and important application, few studies have reported their physical nanostructural evolution under friction. In this study, we investigated the lubrication properties of graphene additives with different layer numbers and interlayer spacing by exfoliating. The additives with a higher degrees of exfoliation changed to ordering under friction, and had better lubrication properties, while that with a lower degrees exhibited obvious structural defects and high friction. Therefore, the original degrees of exfoliation plays a key role in the structural evolution of graphene and superior lubrication can be achieved through the physical nano-structure changing to ordering, even graphitization. Furthermore, the ordered tribofilm on the frictional interfaces was parallel to the sliding direction, meaning the highly exfoliated graphene indeed reaching slippage between its layers, which wasn't experimentally discovered in previous studies. This work provides a new understanding of the relationship between friction-induced nano-structural evolution and lubrication properties of graphene as a lubrication additive, and has great potential for the structural design of graphene as a lubrication additive. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.