Nonequilibrium Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Organic Friction Modifiers Adsorbed on Iron Oxide Surfaces

JP Ewen and C Gattinoni and N Morgan and HA Spikes and D Dini, LANGMUIR, 32, 4450-4463 (2016).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.6b00586

For the successful development and application of lubricants, a full understanding of the nanoscale behavior of complex tribological systems is required, but this is difficult to obtain experimentally. In this study, we use nonequilibrium molecular dynamics (NEMD) simulations to examine the atomistic structure and friction properties of commercially relevant organic friction modifier (OFM) monolayers adsorbed on iron oxide surfaces and lubricated by a thin, separating layer of hexadecane. Specifically, acid, amide, and glyceride OFMs, with saturated and Z-unsaturated hydrocarbon tail groups, are simulated at various surface coverages and sliding velocities. At low and medium coverage, the OFMs form liquidlike and amorphous monolayers, respectively, which are significantly interdigitated with the hexadecane lubricant, resulting in relatively high friction coefficients. At high coverage, solidlike monolayers are formed for all of the OFMs, which, during sliding, results in slip planes between well-defined OFM and hexadecane layers, yielding a marked reduction in the friction coefficient. When present at equal surface coverage, OFMs with saturated and Z-unsaturated tail groups are found to yield similar structure and friction behavior. OFMs with glyceride head groups yield significantly lower friction coefficients than amide and particularly carboxylic acid head groups. For all of the OFMs and coverages simulated, the friction coefficient is found to increase linearly with the logarithm of sliding velocity; however, the gradient of this increase depends on the coverage. The structure and friction details obtained from these simulations agree well with experimental results and also shed light on the relative tribological performance of these OFMs through nanoscale structural variations. This has important implications in terms of the applicability of NEMD to aid the development of new formulations to control friction.

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