Water-based lubrication provides cheap and environmentally friendly lubrication and, although hydrophilic surfaces are preferred in water-based lubrication, often lubricating surfaces do not retain water molecules during shear. We show here that hydrophilic (42° water contact angle) quartz surfaces facilitate water-based lubrication to the same extent as more hydrophobic Si crystal surfaces (61°), while lubrication by hydrophilic Ge crystal surfaces (44°) is best. Thus surface hydrophilicity is not sufficient for water-based lubrication. Surface-thermodynamic analyses demonstrated that all surfaces, regardless of their water-based lubrication, were predominantly electron donating, implying water binding with their hydrogen groups. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy showed that Ge crystal surfaces providing optimal lubrication consisted of a mixture of -O and =O functionalities, while Si crystal and quartz surfaces solely possessed -O functionalities. Comparison of infrared absorption bands of the crystals in water indicated fewer bound-water layers on hydrophilic Ge than on hydrophobic Si crystal surfaces, while absorption bands for free water on the Ge crystal surface indicated a much more pronounced presence of structured, free-water clusters near the Ge crystal than near Si crystal surfaces. Accordingly, we conclude that the presence of structured, free-water clusters is essential for water-based lubrication. The prevalence of structured water clusters can be regulated by adjusting the ratio between surface electron-donating and electron-accepting groups and between -O and =O functionalities.
- attenuated total reflection crystals
- surface thermodynamics
- contact angles
- X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
- surface chemical composition