Controlled microtribology of a metal oxide surface

Alan Berman, Suzi Steinberg, Samuel Campbell, Avi Ulman, Jacob Israelachvili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rational control of the friction and wear (damage) of engineering, as opposed to model, surfaces under practical conditions such as high contact pressures has long been a technological challenge with much fundamental interest. Lubricant fluids and physisorbed surfactant monolayers (boundary lubricants) are effective friction modifiers but often fail at high loads. We show that the chemisorption of a suitably designed single-chained phosphonate surfactant onto crystalline α-alumina surfaces produces robust protective monolayers that significantly reduce the friction forces and wear even at high loads. The mechanisms are explained, which point to some general principles that offer a basis for scale-up in many different engineering systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalTribology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998


  • Friction modifier
  • Lubrication
  • Self-assembled monolayer
  • Wear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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