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Sliding orientation effects on the tribological properties of polytetrafluoroethylene
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The chemical inertness, high melting point, and intrinsic lubricity of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) have been used to develop solid lubricating parts for operation in extreme environments, from frying pans to satellites. The atomic-level mechanisms associated with friction and wear at PTFE surfaces are elucidated here by systematic investigations of the frictional anisotropy measured with respect to chain orientation. In particular, a combination of atomic-scale simulations, nanometer-scale atomic force microscopy experiments, micrometer-scale microtribometers experiments, and macroscale pin-on-disk experiments are used. Data across these length scales, from both the computational and experimental approaches, provide a consistent view of the mechanisms by which the structural orientation of PTFE contributes to its unique tribological properties.
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