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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J015385/1
Title: In-situ Visualisation of Surface Dynamics of Friction Modifiers
Principal Investigator: Wong, Dr J
Other Investigators:
Spikes, Professor HA
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 03 September 2012 Ends: 02 March 2016 Value (£): 409,285
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Eng. Dynamics & Tribology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
13 Dec 2011 Materials, Mechanical and Medical Engineering Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This proposal concerns research into the dynamics and effectiveness of organic friction modifiers (OFMs) in lubricated contacts. In most applications, friction is an expensive nuisance and should be reduced to as low a level as possible. There are, however, also applications, such as friction drives and wet clutches, where high friction is required or friction that increases with speed. Friction must thus be controlled in an informed manner to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of machines. In the boundary and mixed lubrication regimes, the rubbing surfaces are not fully separated by a fluid film. Contact between rubbing surfaces then occurs and can lead to high friction, wear and scuffing. Therefore surface-active molecules known as organic friction modifiers (OFMs) are commonly added in fuels and lubricants as friction modifiers to improve boundary lubrication.

It is necessary for us to understand how OFMs behave in tribological contacts. Knowledge of the interactions between the surface and these molecules is crucial in the design of effective lubricants. In-situ methods are required to examine these complex processes. This issue is key to this proposed study. The overall aim is to understand the interactions between OFMs, base oil and the rubbing surfaces and how these influence OFM protective films formation and hence lubricating properties. In particular, the effects of the chemistry of rubbing surfaces, degree of OFM saturation and temperature on the formation and dynamics of its self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) will be explored by direct observation of lubricated contacts. In the proposed study, fatty acids are chosen as model OFMs. A fluorescence tracking approach will be developed to explore and understand the lubricating mechanism of OFMs at a single molecule level. A test apparatus for this purpose will be constructed, and advanced, single molecule level fluorescence techniques will be applied to provide direct information of OFM behaviour, and track fatty acid molecules dynamics in-situ. This will enable nanoscopic/molecule level behaviour, in this case, self-assembly and adsorption-desorption kinetics of OFMs measurements, to be correlated of macroscopic observables such as frictional force and wear damage. The proposed work will also provide valuable experimental results that can be used to verify and enhance computer simulations of OFMs in lubricated systems.

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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk