Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Engineers Reveal What Makes Diamonds Slippery At The Nanoscale

Date:
June 25, 2008
Source:
University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
Engineers have conducted the first study of diamond friction supported by spectroscopy and determined that this slippery behavior comes from passivation of atomic bonds at the diamond surface that were broken during sliding and not from the diamond turning into its more stable form, graphite.

They call diamonds “ice,” and not just because they sparkle. Engineers and physicists have long studied diamond because even though the material is as hard as an ice ball to the head, diamond slips and slides with remarkably low friction, making it an ideal material or coating for seals, high performance tools and high-tech moving parts.

Robert Carpick, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania, and his group led a collaboration with researchers from Argonne National Laboratories, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Florida to determine what makes diamond films such slippery customers, settling a debate on the scientific origin of its properties and providing new knowledge that will help create the next generation of super low friction materials.

The Penn experiments, the first study of diamond friction convincingly supported by spectroscopy, looked at two of the main hypotheses posited for years as to why diamonds demonstrate such low friction and wear properties. Using a highly specialized technique know as photoelectron emission microscopy, or PEEM, the study reveals that this slippery behavior comes from passivation of atomic bonds at the diamond surface that were broken during sliding and not from the diamond turning into its more stable form, graphite. The bonds are passivated by dissociative adsorption of water molecules from the surrounding environment. The researchers also found that friction increases dramatically if there is not enough water vapor in the environment.

Some previous explanations for the source of diamond’s super low friction and wear assumed that the friction between sliding diamond surfaces imparted energy to the material, converting diamond into graphite, itself a lubricating material. However, until this study no detailed spectroscopic tests had ever been performed to determine the legitimacy of this hypothesis. The PEEM instrument, part of the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, allowed the group to image and identify the chemical changes on the diamond surface that occurred during the sliding experiment.

The team tested a thin film form of diamond known as ultrananocrystalline diamond and found super low friction (a friction coefficient ~0.01, which is more slippery than typical ice) and low wear, even in extremely dry conditions, (relative humidity ~1.0%). Using a microtribometer, a precise friction tester, and X—ray photoelectron emission microscopy, a spatially resolved X-ray spectroscopy technique, they examined wear tracks produced by sliding ultrananocrystalline diamond surfaces together at different relative humidities and loads. They found no detectable formation of graphite and just a small amount of carbon re-bonded from diamond to amorphous carbon. However, oxygen was present on the worn part of the surface, indicating that bonds broken during sliding were eventually passivated by the water molecules in the environment.

Already used in industry as a mechanical seal coating to reduce wear and improve performance and also as a super-hard coating for high-performance cutting tools, this work could help lead to increased use of diamond films in machines and devices to increase service life, prevent wear of parts and save energy wasted by friction.

The study was published in the June issue of the journal Physical Review Letters and was conducted by A.R. Konicek of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Penn, D.S. Grierson of the Department of Engineering Physics at Wisconsin-Madison, P.U.P.A. Gilbert of the Department of Physics at Wisconsin-Madison, W.G. Sawyer of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Florida, A.V. Sumant of the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory and Carpick.

Funding was provided by the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Department of Energy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania. "Engineers Reveal What Makes Diamonds Slippery At The Nanoscale." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080623133523.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania. (2008, June 25). Engineers Reveal What Makes Diamonds Slippery At The Nanoscale. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080623133523.htm
University of Pennsylvania. "Engineers Reveal What Makes Diamonds Slippery At The Nanoscale." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080623133523.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) MIT developed a robot modeled after a cheetah. It can run up to speeds of 10 mph, though researchers estimate it will eventually reach 30 mph. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) Automobile manufacturer Local Motors created a drivable electric car using a 3-D printer. Printing the body only took 44 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 15, 2014) New York officials unveil subway tunnels that were refurbished after Superstorm Sandy. Nathan Frandino reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins