Flow and contact networks of superlubric colloids for friction reduction
Friction between moving parts and the associated wear are estimated to be responsible for 25% of the world’s energy consumption. In this project, we investigate structural superlubricity, ultralow friction due to atomic lattice misfit between clean, flat, rigid crystalline surfaces, to design macroscopic low-friction lubricants. The PhD project is part of the European project SSLiP (Scaling-up SuperLubricity into Persistence), with 7 different partners from different European countries.
Structural superlubricity is currently a lab curiosity which we want to bring to the macroscale to impact real-life products. In this PhD project, we will use tribo-colloids, colloidal particles coated with 2D materials, and investigate their dynamic network of superlubric contacts shear and shear rate. We will image the contact network directly with 3D confocal microscopy, and investigate flow instabilities (shear banding) in this ultra-low friction colloidal system under mechanical probing. Together with the other project partners, we will carefully design the coatings and carrier fluid to achieve an ultralow friction lubricant for eventual practical implementation.