Influence of Surface Morphology on the Shear-Induced Wear of Alkylsilane Monolayers: Molecular Dynamics Study

AZ Summers and CR Iacovella and MR Billingsley and ST Arnold and PT Cummings and C McCabe, LANGMUIR, 32, 2348-2359 (2016).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b03862

Chemisorbed alkylsilane monolayer coatings have been shown to possess favorable lubrication properties; however, film degradation prevents the widespread use of these materials as lubricants in micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS). In this work, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are used to provide insight into the conditions that promote the degradation and wear of these materials. This is achieved through removal of interfacial chain-substrate bonds during shear and the examination of the mobility of the resulting free, unbound chains. Specific focus is given to the effects of surface morphology, which has been shown previously to strongly influence frictional forces in monolayer systems. In-plane order of chain attachments is shown to lead to pressure-induced orientational ordering of monolayers, promoting film stability. This behavior is lost as nonideality is introduced into the substrate and chain patterning on the surface becomes disordered. The presence of surface roughness is found to reduce film stability, with localization of wear observed for chain attachment sites nearest the interface of contact. The influence of substrate nonideality on monolayer degradation is shown to diminish as chain length is increased.

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