Non-conventional inverse-Stribeck-curve behaviour and other characteristics of DLC coatings in all lubrication regimes

M. Kalin, I. Velkavrh

Wear 297 (2013) 911-918.


Due to the specific surface properties of diamond-like-carbon (DLC) coatings their interactions with base oils and additives differ from those of conventional ferrous engineering materials such as steel. This relates not only to their reactions with additives, which were frequently investigated in the past, but also to the effects of base oils and the physical properties of these oils. In order to better understand the physical phenomena of base oils, in this study we analyse the influence of velocity and viscosity (through the Stribeck parameter) on the friction in DLC/DLC contacts for all lubrication regimes. The tribological tests were performed with various non-polar base oils and the behaviour of the DLC/DLC contacts was compared with the steel/steel contacts, where the lubrication mechanisms are well known. Several differences were found for all the lubrication regimes. However, the most surprising is that in the boundary-lubrication regime the Stribeck curve of the DLC contacts has the opposite, i.e., an “inverse”, shape to that of the steel contacts. Namely, the friction of the DLC contacts decreases at low Stribeck-parameter values, rather than showing an increase, as is known from the classical Stribeck-curve theory. This new finding shows that Stribeck curve shape depends strongly on the type of materials in contacts—not only on classical Stribeck parameters (velocity, viscosity, load).


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