Exploring lubrication regimes at the nanoscale: Nanotribological characterization of silica and polymer brushes in viscous solvents

Prathima C. Nalam, Shivaprakash N. Ramakrishna, Rosa Maria Espinosa Marzal, Nicholas D. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Nanotribological properties of silica surfaces, with and without adsorbed, brushlike copolymers of poly(l-lysine)-graft-poly(ethylene glycol) (PLL-g-PEG) and poly(l-lysine)-graft-dextran (PLL-g-dextran) have been investigated in aqueous viscous solvent mixtures by means of colloid-probe lateral force microscopy. Lateral forces for PEG/dextran brushes have been measured as a function of shear velocity in aqueous mixtures of glycerol and ethylene glycol (EG), which are highly miscible with water, but are poor solvents for hydrophilic PEG and dextran chains. Prior to the friction measurements on polymer brushes, a nanoscale Stribeck curve was obtained on a bare silica surface in the selected aqueous cosolvent mixtures. The Stribeck curve for bare surfaces indicates the existence of a surface-solvating thin film due to the adsorption of hydrated ions, preventing direct silica-silica contact in the boundary-lubrication regime. A clear transition to the hydrodynamic regime is seen at high speeds for solvents with higher viscosities. The polymer brushes, however, show a shear-thinning effect with increasing shear speed and a combined influence of polymer film and solvent viscosity on the measured friction forces. The formation of an interfacial fluid-film is shown to shift the hydrodynamic regime of hydrated brushes to a lower value of Uη. The correlation between the structural configuration and the corresponding frictional properties of the polymer brushes upon changing solvent quality is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10149-10158
Number of pages10
JournalLangmuir
Volume29
Issue number32
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 13 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry

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