Ionic liquids at interfaces and their tribological behavior

R. M. Espinosa-Marzal, M. Han, A. Arcifa, N. D. Spencer, A. Rossi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Ionic liquids display novel self-assembling behavior at the solid-liquid interface, where they remain firmly surface-adsorbed under high normal and shear stress. Such appealing property has inspired increasing research efforts in the field of tribology of ionic liquids during the past 15 years. This article summarizes our current knowledge of the mechanisms of ionic-liquid-mediated lubrication. We first review the studies that have revealed the composition of the confined thin films as a function of surface properties, environmental conditions, and chemical structures of the ionic liquid. This knowledge is then correlated with the proposed lubrication mechanisms for smooth surfaces and mild tribological conditions on the nanoscale, which are, for example, of relevance in the context of lubrication of micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems. We further address the additional effects of surface roughness, contamination, wear, and the formation of tribolayers under high pressures and temperatures, which are convoluted in the tribological response of the ionic liquid lubricant subjected to high stress. Although many works have demonstrated the lubricious properties of several ionic liquids, generalizations are not possible to date, as the molecular structure and chemical composition of the ionic liquid, as well as the substrate’s surface chemistry and topography, affect the properties of the adsorbed films, and in turn, their tribochemical reactivity. Future directions for research in the field of ionic liquid tribology are proposed at the end of this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Interfacial Chemistry
Subtitle of host publicationSurface Science and Electrochemistry
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780128098943
ISBN (Print)9780128097397
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Boundary lubrication
  • Friction
  • Interfacial layering
  • Ionic liquid
  • Macrotribology
  • Nanotribology
  • Self-assembly
  • Solid-liquid interface
  • Tribocorrosion
  • Wear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Ionic liquids at interfaces and their tribological behavior'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this