Towards programmable friction: Control of lubrication with ionic liquid mixtures by automated electrical regulation
For mechanical systems in relative motion it would be fascinating if a non-mechanical stimulus could be used to directly control friction conditions. Therefore, different combinations of lubricants and external triggers for tribological influence have already been investigated. We show that when two metallic friction partners are lubricated with ionic liquid mixtures (ILM), consisting of long-chain cation and two different high charge/mass ratio anion containing ILs, the application of an electric impulse induces a permanent change of the frictional response. Such mixtures are able to alter the coefficient of friction (COF) to a greater extent, more accurately and faster than the respective single-component ILs. This change in the frictional properties is presumably due to changes in the externally induced electrical polarization at the surface, which influences the molecular adsorption, the exchange of adsorbed ions and their molecular orientation. The correlation between surface charges and friction can be used to control friction. This is achieved by implementing an electric tribo-controller which can adjust preset friction values over time. Programming friction in this way is a first step towards tribosystems that automatically adapt to changing conditions.