The aim of the study was to investigate the friction and wear phenomena of 3 mol % yttria-stabilized tetragonal zirconia polycrystals (3Y-TZP) ceramics with the inclusion of copper oxide (CuO) in large area conformal contact geometry. The pin-on-disk tribometer was used to conduct the dry sliding test using CuO/3Y-TZP as pin and alumina as counter surface. The coefficient of friction (μ) for CuO-added 3Y-TZP was decreased by ∼38% compared to pure 3Y-TZP due to formation of protective tribo film to the substrate. In addition, the experiments also showed that the specific wear rate (k) was reduced by ∼54% with the inclusion of CuO in to 3Y-TZP matrix. The different phases of the zirconia, copper, and yttria as well as the phase transformation before and after sliding test were identified by X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis. Field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) and energy dispersive X-ray (EDS) analysis revealed the existence of CuO in the patchy layers in the worn-out surface of the tested CuO/3Y-TZP sample leading to lower coefficient of friction and improve the wear resistance against alumina counterface in conformal contact geometry. Severe wear mechanism was the dominating factor due to the local plastic deformation of the large number of asperities since the pair of contact was conformal.

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