Neutron-reflectometry study of alcohol adsorption on various DLC coatings

M. Kalin, R. Simič, T. Hirayama, T. Geue, P. Korelis

Applied Surface Science 288 (2014) 405-410.


Diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings are notable for their excellent tribological properties. Our understanding of the lubrication of DLC coatings has improved drastically over the past decade. However, only a few details are known about the properties of the adsorbed layers on DLC, which crucially affect their tribological properties under lubricated conditions. In this work we used neutron reflectometry to determine the thickness and the density of adsorbed layers of alcohol molecules on several different types of DLC coatings, i.e., non-hydrogenated (a-C) and hydrogenated, of which both non-doped (a-C:H) and doped (a-C:H:F and a-C:H:Si) coatings were used. The results showed that a 0.9-nm-thick and relatively dense (≈45%) layer of alcohol adsorbed on the a-C coating. In contrast, no adsorption layer was found on the a-C:H, confirming the important role of hydrogen, which predominantly acts as a dangling-bond passivation source and affects the reactivity and tribochemistry of DLC coatings. The incorporation of F into a DLC coating also did not cause an increase in the adsorption ability with respect to alcohol molecules. On the contrary, the incorporation of Si increased the reactivity of the DLC coating so that a 1.3-nm-thick alcohol layer with a 35% bulk density was detected on the surface. We also discuss the very good agreement of the current results with the surface energy of selected coatings found in these experiments.

Keywords: DLC, adsorpcija, nevtronska reflektometrija, alkoholi

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