Experimental and numerical atomistic investigation of the third body formation process in dry tungsten/tungsten-carbide tribo couples
The third body in tungsten/tungsten-carbide sliding systems is studied using a combination of experiments and atomistic simulations. Ex situ X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and focused ion beam analysis of the structural and chemical changes near the surfaces reveals that sliding of tungsten against tungsten-carbide results in plastic deformation of the W surface, leading to grain refinement, and the formation of a mechanically mixed amorphous layer on the WC counter body. Molecular dynamics simulations of W/WC sliding couples exhibit the formation of a nanoscale amorphous W/WC interface. The infrequent occurrence of atomic jamming events in the interface resulted in the emission of dislocations into the W bulk and the generation of amorphous shear bands in the WC counter body in agreement with the different third bodies observed in W and WC after the experiments.