2D nanomaterial MXene: The perfect lubricant: In extreme heat or in the vacuum of space: a novel nanomaterial delivers top performance in extreme situations, as demonstrated by TU Wien (Vienna) with international partners

You possibly can lubricate a bicycle chain with oil, however what do you do with a Mars rover or a red-hot conveyor belt within the metal trade? Very particular nanomaterials have now been studied by the TU Wien along with analysis teams from Saarbrücken (Germany), Purdue College within the USA and the Universidad de Chile (Santiago, Chile).

The fabric class of MXenes (pronounced “maxene”) has induced fairly a stir in recent times in reference to novel battery applied sciences. But it surely now seems that also they are a superb stable lubricant that’s extraordinarily sturdy and performs its job even below essentially the most troublesome circumstances. These outstanding properties of MXenes have now been printed within the journal ACS Nano.

Like a stack of sheets of paper

Similar to the carbon materials graphene, MXenes belong to the category of so-called 2D supplies: their properties are primarily decided by the truth that they’re ultra-thin layers, single atomic layers, with out robust bonds to the layer above or under.

“You first begin with so-called MAX phases, that are particular layer programs consisting of titanium, aluminium and carbon, for instance,” says Prof. Carsten Gachot, head of the Tribology Group on the Institute of Engineering Design and Product Improvement at TU Wien. “The essential trick is to etch out the aluminium with hydrofluoric acid.”

What then stays is a stack of atomically skinny layers of titanium and carbon that lie loosely on high of one another, very similar to sheets of paper. Every layer is comparatively steady by itself, however the layers can simply be shifted towards one another.


This displaceability of the atomic layers amongst one another makes the fabric a superb dry lubricant: with out producing abrasion, extraordinarily low-resistance sliding is made attainable. The friction between metal surfaces might thus be decreased to at least one sixth — and with exceptionally excessive put on resistance: even after 100,000 motion cycles, the MXene lubricating layer nonetheless features with out issues.

That is good to be used below troublesome circumstances: Whereas lubricating oil would evaporate instantly in a vacuum throughout area missions, for instance, MXene within the type of advantageous powder may also be used there.

Impartial of environment and temperature

“Comparable issues have been tried with different thin-film supplies, reminiscent of graphene or molybdenum disulphide,” says Carsten Gachot. “However they react sensitively to moisture within the environment. Water molecules can change the bonding forces between the person layers. With MXenes, then again, this performs a lesser position.”

One other decisive benefit is the warmth resistance of MXenes: “Many lubricants oxidise at excessive warmth and lose their lubricity. MXenes, then again, are way more steady, and might even be used within the metal trade, the place mechanically transferring elements can typically attain a temperature of a number of hundred levels Celsius,” explains Gachot.

The powdery lubricant was investigated in a number of experiments at TU Wien by Dr. Philipp Grützmacher from Prof. Gachot’s analysis group in addition to at Saarland College in Saarbrücken and Purdue College within the USA. On the different finish of the world, Prof. Andreas Rosenkranz in Chile performed a serious position in initiating and designing the work.

“There may be additionally already nice curiosity in these supplies on the a part of trade. We assume that such MXenes can quickly be produced on a bigger scale,” says Carsten Gachot.