The properties of alkane lubricants confined between two approaching solids are investigated by a model that accounts for the curvature and the elastic properties of the solid surfaces. We consider linear alkane molecules of different chain lengths, C3H8, C4H10, C8H18, C9H20, C10H22, C12H26 and C14H30 confined between smooth gold surfaces. In most cases we observe well defined molecular layers develop in the lubricant film when the width of the film is of the order of a few atomic diameters. An external squeezing-pressure induces discontinuous, thermally activated changes in the number n of lubricant layers. We find that with increasing alkane chain length, the transition from n to n-1 layers occurs at higher pressure, as expected based on the increasing wettability ~or spreading pressure with increasing chain length. Thus, the longer alkanes are better boundary lubricants than the shorter ones, and this should result in less wear. We obtain good correlation between our theoretical results and wear experiments.
Bibliographical noteCopyright (2003) American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics.
- SOLVATION FORCES
- CONFINED FILMS