Squeezing molecularly thin alkane lubrication films: Layering transistions and wear

Ion Marius Sivebæk, V. N. Samoilov, B. N. J. Persson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


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, C(3)H(8); C(4)H(10); C(8)H(18); C(9)H(20); C(10)H(22); C(12)H(26), and C(14)H(30) confined between smooth gold surfaces. 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 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 with increasing chain length. We obtain good correlation between our theoretical results and wear experiments.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTribology Letters
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)195-200
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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