Reactive wear protection through strong and deformable oxide nanocomposite surfaces

Liu, C. and Li, Z. and Lu, W. and Bao, Y. and Xia, W. and Wu, X. and Zhao, H. and Gault, B. and Liu, C. and Herbig, M. and Fischer, A. and Dehm, G. and Wu, G. and Raabe, D.

Volume: 12 Pages:
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-25778-y
Published: 2021

Wear-related energy and material loss cost over 2500 Billion Euro per year. Traditional wisdom suggests that high-strength materials reveal low wear rates, yet, their plastic deformation mechanisms also influence their wear performance. High strength and homogeneous deformation behavior, which allow accommodating plastic strain without cracking or localized brittle fracture, are crucial for developing wear-resistant metals. Here, we present an approach to achieve superior wear resistance via in-situ formation of a strong and deformable oxide nanocomposite surface during wear, by reaction of the metal surface with its oxidative environment, a principle that we refer to as ‘reactive wear protection’. We design a TiNbZr-Ag alloy that forms an amorphous-crystalline oxidic nanocomposite surface layer upon dry sliding. The strong (2.4 GPa yield strength) and deformable (homogeneous deformation to 20% strain) nanocomposite surface reduces the wear rate of the TiNbZr-Ag alloy by an order of magnitude. The reactive wear protection strategy offers a pathway for designing ultra-wear resistant alloys, where otherwise brittle oxides are turned to be strong and deformable for improving wear resistance. © 2021, The Author(s).

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