Suppressing Nanoscale Wear by Graphene/Graphene Interfacial Contact Architecture: A Molecular Dynamics Study

Q Xu and X Li and J Zhang and YZ Hu and H Wang and TB Ma, ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, 9, 40959-40968 (2017).

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b11133

Nanoscale wear is one of the key factors hindering the performance and lifetime of micro- and nanosystems, such as the scanning tip wear in atomic force microscopy (AFM), the head disk interface in magnetic storage system, and the moving components in micro- or nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS). Here, we a.) 2 propose to construct the graphene/graphene interfacial architecture to suppress the nanoscale wear. Molecular dynamics simulations show that the atomic roughness of the sliding surfaces with either stepped or amorphous structure can lead to strong inhomogeneity of the local contact pressure distribution. By coating graphene on both sides of the frictional surfaces, the local contact pressure fluctuations due to the atomic roughness are suppressed. Moreover, this trend is more evident with the increasing layer number of the graphene coating. Furthermore, the nanoscratching simulation suggests that the rupture of graphene is driven by the inhomogeneous pressure distribution-induced lateral atomic interlocking between the rough tip and substrate and the consequent in- plane lattice deformation and C-C bond breaking during sliding. By coating graphene on the rough amorphous carbon tip, the critical normal load for wear failure of graphene is significantly increased, due to the weakening effect of the atomic interlocking by improving the contact conditions with atomically smooth graphene/graphene sliding interface. This investigation reveals a strategy for reducing nanowear by suppressing the local contact pressure fluctuations via graphene/graphene sliding interface architecture, which provides a theoretical guidance for designing wear-resistant coatings for the longevity of AFM probes and MEMS/NEMS systems.

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