Friction properties of carbon nano-onions from experiment and computer simulations

L. Joly-Pottuz, E. W. Bucholz, N. Matsumoto, S. R. Phillpot, S. B. Sinnott, N. Ohmae, J. M. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


The carbon nano-onion can be considered as a new kind of interesting lubricating nanoparticle. Used as lubricant additives, carbon nano-onions lead to a strong reduction of both friction and wear, even at low temperature. To better elucidate the mechanisms by which these processes occur, coupled experimental and computational investigations are carried out. In addition, it is found that lubricious iron oxide nanoparticles are generated in the core of the steel contact through mechanisms that are not yet known. The molecular dynamics simulations of carbon onions placed between sliding diamond-like carbon surfaces at high contact pressure indicate that the lubrication mechanism of the onions is based on a coupled process of rolling and sliding inside the contact area. We conclude that most of carbon onions seem to remain intact under friction processes and do not generate graphitic planes, which is in contrast to the previously determined behavior of MoS 2 fullerenes that are mainly exfoliated inside the contact area and liberate lubricating lamellar sheets of h-MoS 2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-81
Number of pages7
JournalTribology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon nano-onions
  • Molecular dynamics simulations
  • Tribology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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