Environmental Effects on the Tribology and Microstructure of MoS2Sb2O3C Films

Gregory J. Dudder, Xueying Zhao, Brandon A. Krick, W. Gregory Sawyer, and Scott S. Perry


The tribology of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2)Sb2O3C films was tested under a variety of environmental conditions (ambient 50% RH, 10-7 Torr vacuum, 150 Torr oxygen, and 8 Torr water) and correlated with the composition of the surface composition expressed while sliding. High friction and low friction modes of behavior were detected. The lowest coefficient of friction, 0.06, was achieved under vacuum, while sliding in 8 Torr water and ambient conditions both yielded the highest value of 0.15. Water vapor was determined to be the environmental species responsible for high friction performance. XPS evaluations revealed a preferential expression of MoS2 at the surface of wear tracks produced under vacuum and an increase in Sb2O3 concentration in wear tracks produced in ambient air (50% RH). In addition, wear tracks produced by sliding in vacuum exhibited the lowest surface roughness as compared to those produced in other environments, consistent with the picture of low friction originating from well-ordered MoS2 layers produced through sliding in vacuum.

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[pdf version] or DOI: 10.1007/s11249-011-9764-z


Undergraduate Research Positions Available

Research Opportunities

Oportunity for hands on research experience.

Now Accepting Applications.

In the Tribology Laboratory, undergraduates will do experimental research focused on interfacial interactions of condensed matter. This includes studying the fundamental origins of friction, wear, surface deformation and adhesion on complex surfaces and materials ranging from cells to nanocomposites in environments ranging space to kilometers under water.

Active research includes analysis of materials that recently returned from the international space station, evaluating wear of dinosaur dental fossils, developing and patenting ultra-low wear polymer nanocomposites, studying and designing biocompatible and bio-inspired polymeric and hydrogel materials, and collaborating internationally on the physics of soft matter interactions. This research in tribology is at the intersection of mechanical engineering, materials science and surface physics.

Nanomechanical and Tribological Properties on Hadrosaurid Dinosaurs

Nanomechanical and Tribological Properties on Hadrosaurid

Prof. Greg Sawyer, Greg Erickson and Brandon Krick measured nanomechanical and tribological properties on hadrosaurid (duck-billed dinosaur) dental fossils from the American Museum of Natural History. Using custom instruments, we measured tissue hardness and wear rates that were preserved in the 65 million year old tooth. These properties are preserved in fossilized teeth because apatite mineral content is the major determinant of dental tissue hardness. Measured tissue wear rates were used to simulate the formation of hadrosaurid tooth chewing surfaces using a 3-D wear simulation. The simulation results in a surface profile nearly identical to a naturally worn hadrosaurid dental battery. The model revealed how each tissue (of differing wear rates) contributed to the formation of sophisticated slicing and grinding features in these reptiles tens of millions of years before mammals evolved analogous chewing capacity. This capacity to measure wear-relevant properties preserved in fossils provides a new route to study biomechanics throughout evolution. See Journal papers:
Science, October 5, 2012, pp.98-101.

Experiments back from the International Space Station

Space Tribometers and Samples back for analysis

Materials on the International Space Station Experiments Space Tribometerd

Materials on the International Space Station Experiments (MISSE) Space Tribometers were the first ever active tribometers directly exposed to the Low Earth Orbit Environment

The Tribology Laboratory at Lehigh University is under construction

The lab as of May 2013

The lab as of July, 3rd 2013

The main laboratory is located in Lehigh's Packard Laboratory.