Comparative study of the tribological behavior of self-lubricating W–S–C and Mo–Se–C sputtered coatings

Polcar, T., Evaristo, M. and Cavaleiro, A. (2008) Comparative study of the tribological behavior of self-lubricating W–S–C and Mo–Se–C sputtered coatings [in special issue: Tribology of Engineered Surfaces] Wear, 266, (3-4), pp. 388-392. (doi:10.1016/j.wear.2008.04.011).


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Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMD) have been one of the best alternatives as low friction coatings for tribological applications, particularly in dry and vacuum environments. However, besides their deficient behavior in humid containing atmospheres, their extensive application has also been restricted due to their low load-bearing capacity. In order to overcome these problems, recently the alloying with C has been tried with the expectation of simultaneously improving the coatings hardness and reaching sliding contacting phases more convenient for achieving low friction in humid environments.

The practical application of this concept was extensively studied with the W–S–C system, with the C addition being achieved either by reactive or co-sputtering processes. The best tribological results were obtained by co-sputtering from a C target embedded with an increasing number of WS2 pellets. Excellent results were reached from the more than one order of magnitude increase in the coatings hardness up to friction coefficients which are close to those of the references of self-lubricating coatings: TMD for dry or vacuum atmospheres or C-based coatings for terrestrial sliding conditions.

Following the good results achieved with W–S–C system, other TMDs systems have been envisaged to be studied. The main focus was placed on the Mo–Se–C system.

In this paper, the general comparison between W–S–C and Mo–Se–C coatings is presented. The main effort is pointed on the tribological behavior of both systems when tested by pin-on-disk against steel counterpart balls under different testing conditions: applied normal loads, temperatures and relative humidity of the atmospheres. Both coatings were deposited by co-sputtering from a C target with a varying number of TMD pellets which could lead to C contents in the films in the range from 30 up to 70 at.%. A Ti interlayer was interposed between the films and the substrates for improving the adhesion.

Typically, W–S–C films are harder than Mo–Se–C films. From the tribological point of view, W–S–C films are more thermally stable than Mo–Se–C films although the friction coefficients of these last ones are lower when tested in humid containing atmospheres.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.wear.2008.04.011
ISSNs: 0043-1648 (print)
Keywords: WS2, MoSe2, self-lubrication, coating, tribology
Organisations: nCATS Group
ePrint ID: 199807
Date :
Date Event
6 June 2008e-pub ahead of print
5 February 2009Published
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2011 15:58
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 01:27
Further Information:Google Scholar

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