Influence of impurities and contact scale on the lubricating properties of bovine submaxillary mucin (BSM) films on a hydrophobic surface

Nikolaos Nikogeorgos, Jan Busk Madsen, Seunghwan Lee

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Lubricating properties of bovine submaxillary mucin (BSM) on a compliant, hydrophobic surface were studied as influenced by impurities, in particular bovine serum albumin (BSA), at macro and nanoscale contacts by means of pin-on-disk tribometry and friction force microscopy (FFM), respectively. At both contact scales, the purity of BSM and the presence of BSA were quantitatively discriminated. The presence of BSA was responsible for higher frictional forces observed from BSM samples containing relatively larger amount of BSA. But, the mechanisms contributing to higher friction forces by BSA were different at different contact scales. At the macroscale contact, higher friction forces were caused by faster and dominant adsorption of BSA into the contacting area under a continuous cycle of desorption and re-adsorption of the macromolecules from tribostress. Nevertheless, all BSMs lowered the interfacial friction forces due to large contact area and a large number of BSM molecules in the contact area. At the nanoscale contact, however, no significant desorption of the macromolecules is expected in tribological contacts because of too small contact area and extremely small number of BSM molecules involved in the contact area. Instead, increasingly higher friction forces with increasing amount of BSA in BSM layer are attributed to higher viscosity caused by BSA in the layer. Comparable size of AFM probes with BSM molecules allowed them to penetrate through the BSM layers and to scratch on the underlying substrates, and thus induced higher friction forces compared to the sliding contact on bare substrates.© 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalColloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces
    Pages (from-to)760–766
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • BSM
    • BSA
    • Lubrication


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