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Amorphous W-S-N thin films: the atomic structure behind ultra-low friction
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Materials Theory.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Chemistry, Department of Chemistry - Ångström, Inorganic Chemistry.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2535-3107
Indian Institute of Science.
Illinois Institute of Technology.
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2015 (English)In: Acta Materialia, ISSN 1359-6454, E-ISSN 1873-2453, Vol. 82, 84-93 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Amorphous W–S–N in the form of thin films has been identified experimentally as an ultra-low friction material, enabling easy sliding by the formation of a WS2 tribofilm. However, the atomic-level structure and bonding arrangements in amorphous W–S–N, which give such optimum conditions for WS2 formation and ultra-low friction, are not known. In this study, amorphous thin films with up to 37 at.% N are deposited, and experimental as well as state-of-the-art ab initio techniques are employed to reveal the complex structure of W–S–N at the atomic level. Excellent agreement between experimental and calculated coordination numbers and bond distances is demonstrated. Furthermore, the simulated structures are found to contain N bonded in molecular form, i.e. N2, which is experimentally confirmed by near edge X-ray absorption fine structure and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis. Such N2 units are located in cages in the material, where they are coordinated mainly by S atoms. Thus this ultra-low friction material is shown to be a complex amorphous network of W, S and N atoms, with easy access to W and S for continuous formation of WS2 in the contact region, and with the possibility of swift removal of excess nitrogen present as N2 molecules.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 82, 84-93 p.
National Category
Inorganic Chemistry Materials Chemistry Condensed Matter Physics
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-230988DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2014.08.043ISI: 000347017800008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-230988DiVA: diva2:742614
Available from: 2014-09-02 Created: 2014-09-02 Last updated: 2015-02-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Triboactive Low-Friction Coatings Based on Sulfides and Carbides
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Triboactive Low-Friction Coatings Based on Sulfides and Carbides
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

For sustainable development, it is highly important to limit the loss of energy and materials in machines used for transportation, manufacturing, and other purposes. Large improvements can be achieved by reducing friction and wear in machine elements, for example by the application of coatings. This work is focused on triboactive coatings, for which the outermost layer changes in tribological contacts to form so-called tribofilms. The coatings are deposited by magnetron sputtering (a physical vapor deposition method) and thoroughly chemically and structurally characterized, often theoretically modelled, and tribologically evaluated, to study the connection between the composition, structure and tribological performance of the coatings.

Tungsten disulfide, WS2, is a layered material with the possibility of ultra-low friction. This work presents a number of nanocomposite or amorphous coatings based on WS2, which combine the low friction with improved mechanical properties. Addition of N can give amorphous coatings consisting of a network of W, S and N with N2 molecules in nanometer-sized pockets, or lead to the formation of a metastable cubic tungsten nitride. Co-deposition with C can also give amorphous coatings, or nanocomposites with WSx grains in an amorphous C-based matrix. Further increase in coating hardness is achieved by adding both C and Ti, forming titanium carbide. All the WS2-based materials can provide very low friction (down to µ<0.02) by the formation of WS2 tribofilms, but the performance is dependent on the atmosphere as O2 and H2O can be detrimental to the tribofilm functionality.

Another possibility is to form low-friction tribofilms by tribochemical reactions between the two surfaces in contact. Addition of S to TiC/a-C nanocomposite coatings leads to the formation of a metastable S-doped carbide phase, TiCxSy, from which S can be released. This enables the formation of low-friction WS2 tribofilms when a Ti-C-S coating is run against a W counter-surface. Reduced friction, at a moderate level, also occurs for steel counter-surfaces, likely due to formation of beneficial iron sulfide tribofilms.

The studied coatings, whether based on WS2 or TiC, are thus triboactive, with the ability to form low-friction tribofilms in a sliding contact.



Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2014. 86 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1183
coatings, thin films, tribology, tungsten disulfide, transition metal dichalcogenide, nanocomposite, TiC/a-C, tribofilms, PVD, XPS, HAXPES, XRD, SEM, TEM, Raman spectroscopy, nanoindentation
National Category
Inorganic Chemistry
Research subject
Chemistry with specialization in Inorganic Chemistry
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-230989 (URN)978-91-554-9041-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-10-31, Häggsalen, Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Available from: 2014-10-09 Created: 2014-09-02 Last updated: 2015-01-23Bibliographically approved

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