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Tribology, the science and engineering of contacts between bodies in relative motion, is a major research theme at LSST. Our activities include studies of lubricant oil additives, where we use surface-analytical approaches to understand the interactions of lubricant oil additives with sliding surfaces, as well as correlating these interactions with tribological properties (friction and wear). We also, as a focus area, study the use of polymer brushes and gels in lubrication, both in aqueous media and in oil. There is a strongly fundamental aspect to this work as well, and we are engaged in molecular dynamics modeling studies, in order to understand the behavior of brushes in lubrication, and the role of crosslinking. We have also looked at the role of polymer brushes on the rheology of granular suspensions. Finally, a major activity over recent years has involved the exploration of ionic liquids as lubricants, in particular how their behavior on a nanoscopic scale relates to macroscale lubrication properties.


  1. Effect of Crosslinking on the Microtribological Behavior of Model Polymer Brushes
    Manjesh K. Singh, Patrick Ilg, Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal, Martin Kröger, Nicholas D. Spencer
    Tribology Letters; 2016; 63(2) pp 1 - 9
  2. Influence of environmental humidity on the wear and friction of a silica / silicon tribopair lubricated with a hydrophilic ionic liquid
    Andrea Arcifa, Antonella Rossi, Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal, and Nicholas D. Spencer
    ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces; 2016; 8(5) pp 2961 - 2973
  3. Aqueous Lubrication with Poly(Ethylene Glycol) Brushes
    Nicholas D. Spencer
    Tribology Online; 2014; 9(4) pp 143-153
  4. Exploring lubrication regimes at the nano-scale: Nanotribological characterization of silica and polymer brushes in viscous solvents
    Prathima C. Nalam, Shivaprakash N. Ramakrishna, Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal and Nicholas D. Spencer
    Langmuir; 2013; 29(32) pp 10149-10158
  5. Microscopic mechanism for the shear-thickening of non-Brownian suspensions
    Nicolas Fernandez, Roman Mani, David Rinaldi, Dirk Kadau, Martin Mosquet, Hélène Lombois-Burger, Juliette Cayer-Barrioz, Hans J. Herrmann, Nicholas D. Spencer, and Lucio Isa
    Physical Review Letters; 2013; 111(10) pp 108301
  6. Effect of chain-length and countersurface on the tribochemistry of bulk zinc polyphosphate glasses
    Maura Crobu, Antonella Rossi, Nicholas D. Spencer
    Tribology Letters; 2012; 48(3) pp 393-406
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