Robust microscale structural superlubricity between graphite and nanostructured surface

XY Huang and TF Li and J Wang and K Xia and ZP Tan and DL Peng and XJ Xiang and B Liu and M Ma and QS Zheng, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 14, 2931 (2023).

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-38680-6

Structural superlubricity is a state of nearly zero friction and no wear between two contacted solid surfaces. However, such state has a certain probability of failure due to the edge defects of graphite flake. Here, we achieve robust structural superlubricity state between microscale graphite flakes and nanostructured silicon surfaces under ambient condition. We find that the friction is always less than 1 mu N, the differential friction coefficient is on theorder of 10(-4), without observable wear. This is attributed to the edge warping of graphite flake on the nanostructured surface under concentrated force, which eliminate the edge interaction between the graphite flake and the substrate. This study not only challenges the traditional understanding in tribology and structural superlubricity that rougher surfaces lead to higher friction and lead to wear, thereby reducing roughness requirements, but also demonstrates that a graphite flake with a single crystal surface that does not come into edge contact with the substrate can consistently achieve robust structural superlubricity state with any non-van derWaalsmaterial in atmospheric conditions. Additionally, the study provides a general surface modification method that enables the widespread application of structural superlubricity technology in atmospheric environments.

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