Operando tribochemical formation of onion-like-carbon leads to macroscale superlubricity. Academic Article uri icon


  • Stress-induced reactions at the sliding interface during relative movement are known to cause structural or chemical modifications in contacting materials. The nature of these modifications at the atomic level and formation of byproducts in an oil-free environment, however, remain poorly understood and pose uncertainties in predicting the tribological performance of the complete tribosystem. Here, we demonstrate that tribochemical reactions occur even in dry conditions when hydrogenated diamond-like carbon (H-DLC) surface is slid against two-dimensional (2D) molybdenum disulfide along with nanodiamonds in dry nitrogen atmosphere. Detailed experimental studies coupled with reactive molecular dynamics simulations reveal that at high contact pressures, diffusion of sulfur from the dissociated molybdenum disulfide led to amorphization of nanodiamond and subsequent transformation to onion-like carbon structures (OLCs). The in situ formation of OLCs at the sliding interface provide reduced contact area as well as incommensurate contact with respect to the H-DLC surface, thus enabling successful demonstration of superlubricity.

published proceedings

  • Nat Commun

altmetric score

  • 114.21

author list (cited authors)

  • Berman, D., Narayanan, B., Cherukara, M. J., Sankaranarayanan, S., Erdemir, A., Zinovev, A., & Sumant, A. V.

citation count

  • 146

complete list of authors

  • Berman, Diana||Narayanan, Badri||Cherukara, Mathew J||Sankaranarayanan, Subramanian KRS||Erdemir, Ali||Zinovev, Alexander||Sumant, Anirudha V

publication date

  • January 2018