Graphite is known to be a good solid lubricant. The low-friction behavior is commonly ascribed to the low resistance to shear. Using a home-built frictional force microscope that is able to detect forces in three dimensions, we have studied the energy dissipation between a tungsten tip sliding over a graphite surface in dry contact. By measuring atomic-scale friction as a function of the rotational angle between two contacting bodies we show that the origin of the ultra-low friction of graphite lies in the incommensurability between rotated graphite layers, an effect proposed under the name of ‘superlubricity’.
Atomic-Scale Observation of Superlubricity
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Dienwiebel, M, Verhoeven, GS, Pradeep, N, Zandbergen, HW, & Frenken, JWM. "Atomic-Scale Observation of Superlubricity." Proceedings of the World Tribology Congress III. World Tribology Congress III, Volume 2. Washington, D.C., USA. September 12–16, 2005. pp. 465-466. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/WTC2005-64003
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