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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 11, 2013

The running-in of amorphous hydrocarbon tribocoatings: a comparison between experiment and molecular dynamics simulations

  • L. Pastewka , S. Moser , M. Moseler , B. Blug , S. Meier , T. Hollstein and P. Gumbsch


Amorphous hydrocarbon (a-C: H) films have enormous potential as low friction, wear resistant coatings. Here, we present a plasma assisted chemical vapour deposition process for a-C: H that exhibits growth rates of 100 nm min– 1 and higher. The tribological performance of the resulting a-C: H films has been studied experimentally by reciprocating sliding of an a-C: H-coated Si3N4 ball on an a-C: H-coated 100Cr6 steel substrate and by subsequent micro Raman spectroscopy of the wear track. Running-in of the coatings is observed and characterised by a rapid decrease in the friction coefficient accompanied by a significant increase in sp2 hybridisation in the wear track. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying running-in mechanisms, the sliding of two a-C: H films under a load of 5 GPa has been studied by classical molecular dynamics employing a range-corrected Brenner bond-order potential. The simulations reproduce the experimental trends and explain the running-in by a combination of smoothing and chemical passivation of both tribosurfaces. Consequently, both mechanisms should be controlled in order to produce tribological coatings for applications with optimum energy-efficiency.

* Correspondence address, Prof Dr. Michael Moseler, Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials, Wöhlerstraße 11, D-79108 Freiburg, Germany, Tel.: +49 761 5142 332, Fax: +49 761 5142 110, E-mail:


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Received: 2008-4-3
Accepted: 2008-6-12
Published Online: 2013-06-11
Published in Print: 2008-10-01

© 2008, Carl Hanser Verlag, München

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