Scientists from the United States have presented material that will prolong the life of devices operating in extreme conditions. For example, they can be used for rovers on Mars and other planets.
Researchers have developed a nano-sized carbide that can work as a super-lubricant to reduce wear on rovers and other spacecraft. Scientists from the Department of Chemistry at Missouri State University of Science and Technology and the Argonne National Laboratory Nanoscale Materials Center working with the two-dimensional nanomaterials (MXenes) class have found that they are good at reducing friction. At the same time, it works better in extreme conditions, especially compared to analogs.
“These super-lubricants can be especially useful for anti-wear and lubrication in extreme conditions, such as the Perseverance rover,” the researchers noted. They describe their discovery in an article published in Materials Today Advances.
MXenes are metal carbide materials with unusual properties. For example, their ability to conduct electricity allows them to be used for energy storage, sensors and optoelectronics. A team of scientists ran a series of tests to determine how well they worked as solid lubricants with certain materials.
The researchers conducted nanometer-scale ball-in-disc friction tests by applying MXene titanium carbide to a silicon substrate that was coated with a thin layer of silica, the main ingredient in sand. They then tested the MXene’s ability to withstand wear by sliding on a diamond-like carbon steel ball. These tests were carried out in a dry nitrogen environment, which significantly reduced humidity, bringing these conditions closer to extreme.