Special Issue "Tribology of Carbon-Based Coatings"


A special issue of Lubricants (ISSN 2075-4442).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 May 2014)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Esteban Broitman (Website)

Thin Film Physics Division, Department of Physics, IFM, Linköping University, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden
Interests: tribology; nanotribology; tribochemistry; dry lubrication; nanomechanics; carbon-based coatings; hard coatings; soft coatings
Co-Guest Editor
Dr. James David Schall (Website)

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Oakland University, 2200 N. Squirrel Rd., Rochester MI 48309, USA
Phone: +248 370 2870
Interests: tribology; diamond; diamond-like carbon; silicon carbide; grapheme; molecular simulation; modeling; tribochemistry; friction and wear mechanisms

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

During the last three decades, carbon-based coatings have enjoyed a growing interest in several industrial applications. By tuning the carbon sp3-to-sp2 bonding ratio and by alloying the carbon with other elements, the researchers have been able to tailor unique physical, mechanical, and tribological properties in order to satisfy an increased technological demand. Nitrogen doping and other alloying additions like metals, boron, silicon, phosphorous, fluorine, etc., have also been developed to improve their mechanical and tribological properties.

Already in the 1990’s, carbon-based coatings enabled the operation of fuel injectors in gasoline and diesel engines, providing necessary protection against wear, scuffing and other adverse effects of lubricant-lean friction. Nowadays, carbon-based coatings are found in most facets of our daily lives, from the protective films on the hard disks of computers to the lubricious coatings on the blades of a disposable shaving machine. They are used in the chemical, food and packaging industries (valves and cutting hardware), semiconductor processing equipment (wafer handling and mechanical drives of cluster tools), compressors and pumps, and automotive industry (piston rings, camshafts, gears), biomedical applications (stents, heart valves, chirurgical instruments), etc. All the emerging applications of carbon-based coatings are originated in the great variety of crystalline and disordered structures that are possible to obtain by many different deposition techniques.

In this special issue we are requesting original contributions from academic or industrial researchers working on theoretical and/or experimental aspects concerning all kind of carbon-based coatings with improved tribological properties, from basic research to applied (tribological) uses.

Prof. Dr. Esteban Broitman
Dr. James David Schall
Guest Editors


Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Lubricants is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. For the first couple of issues the Article Processing Charge (APC) will be waived for well-prepared manuscripts. English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.


  • carbon-based coatings
  • diamond-like coatings (DLC)
  • CX coatings (X = metal, N, Si, P, B, F, etc)
  • amorphous carbon-based coatings
  • nanocrystralline carbon-based coatings
  • fullerene-like carbon-based coatings
  • multilayers
  • PVD coatings
  • CVD coatings
  • plasma-assisted deposited coatings
  • tribology (friction, wear)

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessReview Reducing Friction and Wear of Tribological Systems through Hybrid Tribofilm Consisting of Coating and Lubricants
Lubricants 2014, 2(2), 90-112; doi:10.3390/lubricants2020090
Received: 6 March 2014 / Revised: 8 April 2014 / Accepted: 17 April 2014 / Published: 23 June 2014
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (754 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
The role of surface protective additives becomes vital when operating conditions become severe and moving components operate in a boundary lubrication regime. After protecting film is slowly removed by rubbing, it can regenerate through the tribochemical reaction of the additives at the [...] Read more.
The role of surface protective additives becomes vital when operating conditions become severe and moving components operate in a boundary lubrication regime. After protecting film is slowly removed by rubbing, it can regenerate through the tribochemical reaction of the additives at the contact. However, there are limitations about the regeneration of the protecting film when additives are totally consumed. On the other hand, there are a lot of hard coatings to protect the steel surface from wear. These can enable the functioning of tribological systems, even in adverse lubrication conditions. However, hard coatings usually make the friction coefficient higher, because of their high interfacial shear strength. Amongst hard coatings, diamond-like carbon (DLC) is widely used, because of its relatively low friction and superior wear resistance. In practice, conventional lubricants that are essentially formulated for a steel/steel surface are still used for lubricating machine component surfaces provided with protective coatings, such as DLCs, despite the fact that the surface properties of coatings are quite different from those of steel. It is therefore important that the design of additive molecules and their interaction with coatings should be re-considered. The main aim of this paper is to discuss the DLC and the additive combination that enable tribofilm formation and effective lubrication of tribological systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tribology of Carbon-Based Coatings)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Type of Paper: Review
Title: Abrasion Resistant Coatings - A Critical Review
Authors: Xingye Guo, Linmin Wu and Jing Zhang
Affiliation: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indiana University, Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA
Abstract: Abrasive resistant coatings have been widely used to reduce or eliminate wear, thus extend the lifetime of products. Abrasive resistant coatings can also be used in environments which are not suitable for lubrications. Moreover, abrasive resistant coatings have been employed to strengthen the mechanical properties, such as fracture toughness, hardness, and yield strength. Given recently rapid development in the coatings, this paper provides a critical review of major types of the coatings. The wearing mechanisms, preparation methods and properties of the coatings will also been elaborated.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Microstructure, Properties and Tribological Performance of Magnetron-sputtered V-C coatings
Authors: Michael Stueber and Pantcho Stoyanov
Affiliation: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute for Applied Materials, Karlsruhe Germany (Stueber), and Fraunhofer IWM, Pfinztal, Germany
Abstract: Transition metal carbides exhibit superior mechanical and tribological properties at a wide range of environmental conditions and contact pressures. More recently, vanadium carbide coatings have been considered for a number of industrial applications due to their high corrosion resistance and mechanical stability at elevated temperatures. However, the friction and wear mechanisms of these coatings have received little attention. The goal of this study is to provide an excessive understanding of the mechanical and microtribological properties of various vanadium carbide-based V-C coatings. The influence of V:C ratio on microstucture formation, mechanical properties and tribological behavior and over a wide range contact pressures is studied in detail. The coatings are prepared using non-reactive d.c. magnetron sputtering with a segmented VC/graphite target, resulting in V:C ratios between 1:1 and 1:3. The microstructure of the coatings changes from single-phase f.c.c. VC1-x to nanocomposites of the type VC1-x/a-C with decreasing V:C ratio. The microhardness of the coatings decreases with decreasing V:C ratio (and is between 3100 HV and 1500 HV for the low and high vanadium concentration respectively). However, reciprocating microtribological tests reveal higher friction values and increased wear with the high vanadium content coatings. This sliding behavior is attributed to differences in the third body formation and velocity accommodation modes.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Mechanical and Tribological Behavior of Carbon-Based Coatings Sliding against PEEK Polymer Pounterfaces
Authors: E. Broitman 1, S. Laino 2, S. Schmidt 1, P. M. Frontini 2, L. Hultman 1
Affiliations: 1 Thin Films Physics Division, IFM, Linköping University, SE 581 83 Linköping, Sweden
2 Facultad de Ingeniería, University of Mar del Plata, B7608FDQ Mar del Plata, Argentina
Abstract: Carbon-based coatings are known for their good mechanical and tribological properties. By tuning the C sp3-to-sp2 bonding ratio and by alloying the carbon with other elements, it is possible to tailor hardness, elasticity, friction and wear resistance. Also, polyether-ether-ketone (PEEK) polymers are increasingly used by the industry because of their corrosion resistance, mechanical stability, and self-lubricating ability. Huge amount of data regarding their individual interaction with steel counterfaces is available; however, very little information is found regarding the interaction of both materials.
In this work, we studied mechanical and tribological properties of carbon nitride (CNx) and carbon fluoride (CFx) coatings sliding against PEEK. The coatings were deposited on SKF3-steel balls by high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) using an industrial deposition system CemeCon CC800/9ML. CNx was prepared at room temperature (RT) and 180 °C (HT) by reactive sputtering from C target in a N2/Ar discharge at 400 mPa. CFx was prepared at RT by reactive sputtering from a C target in a CF4/Ar mixture at 400 mPa. PEEK 6 mm-thick unfilled plates were produced via injection molding (GATONE™ 5600). The friction and wear properties were measured by a pin-on-disk device using 6.35 mm-dia coated and uncoated balls against PEEK in dry slide at pressure contacts from 860 to 1240 GPa. Optical and scanning electron microscopy, and EDX spectroscopy were used to observe the wear tracks and analyze the presence and composition of transfer films. A triboindenter TI-950 (Hysitron) was used to measure hardness, elastic modulus, and roughness of the materials.
Our results demonstrate that a RT-CNx coating on a steel counterface sliding against a PEEK polymer improves the tribological behavior of the sliding couple, and also is advantageous due to the coating chemical inertness.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: MD Investigation of the Tribology of Axisymmetric UNCD Tips with Carbon-based Substrates
Authors: K. E. Ryan 1, M. Fallet 1, P. L. Keating 1, J. D. Schall 2, and J. A. Harrison 1
Affiliations: 1 United States Naval Academy, Chemistry Department, Annapolis, MD, 21402
2 Oakland University, Rochester MI
Abstract: Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations that utilize the AIREBO potential were used to examine the friction and wear of power-law shaped tips in sliding contact with carbon-based substrates. The impact of substrate material on tribology was elucidated by comparison of simulations with single-crystal diamond substrates to ultra-nanocrystalline diamond (UNCD) substrates. The impact of tip-shape and roughness on friction and wear were examined by using axi-symmetric tips with power-law profiles of the form.

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