Carbon-based materials have captured broad interest in the materials science community for decades. They include an impressively broad and ever expanding range of materials – from the building blocks of biology to carbon allotropes with extreme and exotic properties (and names!) including nanotubes, buckyballs, graphene, and diamondoids.

The July Journal of Materials Research (JMR) Focus Issue highlights some of the latest thinking and remaining challenges when it comes to evaluating the potential of carbon-based materials for tribological systems. For the uninitiated, tribology is the study of science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion. It includes the study and application of the principles of friction, lubrication, and wear.

This new collection of cutting-edge articles, brought together by guest editors from leading institutions in Malaysia, Japan, and France, considers the most recent findings in the synthesis, characterization, and application of carbon-based materials – as well as future possibilities for new carbon-based tribological coatings.

Invited experts investigate methods, analysis, design advances, and new materials concerning all kinds of carbon-based materials with improved tribological properties or systems – from fundamental research to applied uses. They highlight benefits including longer product/component life, less energy consumption, and reduction in product development time and cost.

Articles include an analysis of the latest literature focusing on diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings – which have attracted attention from industries and research groups around the world over the past few decades. This is in part due to DLC coatings’ outstanding physical, chemical, tribological, and optical properties, which make them suitable for a wide range of industrial applications – from contact lenses to fuel injection systems. The co-authors from the University of Malaya’s Center for Energy Sciences and Pakistan’s National University of Sciences and Technology decided to consolidate existing data to investigate a range of conflicting findings and different test conditions. They hope this will make it easier to choose the most suitable DLC coating for particular operating conditions and will help prioritize future areas of research.

Co-authors from the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus also investigate a cutting-edge area of research that promises to improve the properties of lubricants by adding nanometer-sized particles to base fluids. Their research finds that graphene could be an excellent additive to improve the thermal properties of base oils used for engine applications.
Experts from the Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka, meanwhile, turn their attention to the promising properties of recycled carbon fiber – looking at the potential of carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic-based composites and the effect of extracting recycled carbon fibers from its impregnated resins. This has potentially far-reaching implications in a context where scientists are continually being spurred to seek innovative and sustainable substitutes for metal supplies.

“We hope that the papers in this special issue will serve as a valuable reference in the field of carbon-based tribomaterials for researchers and tribologists around the globe,” write guest editors Mohd Fadzli Bin Abdollah (Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka, Malaysia), Noritsugu Umehara (Nagoya University, Japan), Mariyam Jameelah Binti Ghazali (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia), and Mohamed El Mansori (Arts et Métiers ParisTech, France).

Access to this issue is freely available until September 15, 2016

The featured Image shows a micrograph image of a crater, where the substrate of diamond-like carbon coatings was exposed and some cracks occurred due to the high load after 100,000 cycles of repetitive impact. The image was taken from the Guest Editor (M.F.B. Abdollah)’s work during his Ph.D study at Nagoya University, Japan, from 2009–2011.

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