By tribopolymerization, we mean the planned, intentional, and continuous formation of protective polymeric films on tribological surfaces by the use of minor concentrations of selected monomers capable of forming polymer films “in situ” by polycondensation or addition polymerization. The approach involves the design of molecules which will form polymeric surface films in critical regions of boundary lubrication. The concept has been shown to be effective in reducing wear with ceramics as well as metals in both liquid and vapor phase applications. The purpose of this paper is threefold, namely: 1. To review our key fundamental research on the topic of tribopolymerization, including more recent views based on measurements of triboelectron emission. 2. To summarize the applications of this concept to a variety of industrial problems, including the use of the compounds in fuels as well as in areas in which environmental issues are important. 3. To briefly outline future plans for fundamental research on tribopolymerization, including theoretical and experimental studies to examine the roles of surface temperature, triboelectron emission, and catalysis on surface polymerization.

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