Tribotronic control of friction in oil-based lubricants with ionic liquid additives

P. K. Cooper, H. Li, M. W. Rutland, Grant B. Webber, R. Atkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) reveals that tribotronic control of friction using an external potential applied to a gold surface is possible for ionic liquid (IL) concentrations as low as 5 mol% in hexadecane. The IL used is trihexyl(tetradecyl)phosphonium bis(2,4,4-trimethylpentyl)phosphinate, in which both the cation and anion have surfactant-like structures, and is miscible with hexadecane in all proportions. For IL concentrations less than 5 mol% friction does not vary with applied potential, but for 5 mol% and above changing the potential changes the composition of the IL boundary layer from cation-enriched (negative potentials) to anion-enriched (positive potentials). As the lubricities of the cation-rich and anion-rich boundary layers differ, this enables active control of friction in oil-based lubricants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23657-23662
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


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