The friction characteristics of lubricated contacts are usually determined by the shearing of three interfacial structural elements; namely lubricant fluid film, tribochemical reaction films and the near-surface materials. The shear behavior of the fluid film components of lubrication can be adequately described by either the hydrodynamic, or elastohydrodynamic theories and calculations. The shear behavior of the near surface materials can also be approximated by contact mechanics. However, due to the complexity and lack of adequate information, description and analysis of the tribochemical film contributions to frictional behavior is more challenging. In this study we present evaluation of the friction behavior of a lubricated contact as a function of tribological test duration, as the tribochemical surface films were being formed. Tests were conducted with two different formulated lubricants, in addition to an unformulated PAO basestock lubricant. One of the formulated lubricants consists of PAO synthetic basestock with 2.5% each of ZDDP and MoDTC additives. The other formulated lubricant is a fully formulated commercial gear oil with similar viscosity. During the friction tests in a fully flooded reciprocating sliding roller-on-flat contact configuration, the friction coefficient decreased exponentially as the tribochemical films were formed; highlighting the impact of boundary films on friction. In the test with the basestock fluid, the friction remained constant for the duration of the test; although an oxide layer was formed. Nanoindentation hardness and modulus measurements were conducted on two of the tribochemical films to measure their mechanical properties and the consequent impact on measured friction during testing.

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