Lubrication by polyelectrolyte brushes

Journal Article (Academic article)

We develop a scaling model relating the friction forces between two polyelectrolyte brushes sliding over each other to the separation between grafted surfaces, number of monomers and charges per chain, grafting density of chains, and solvent quality. We demonstrate that the lateral force between brushes increases upon compression, but to a lesser extent than the normal force. The shear stress at larger separations is due to solvent slip layer friction. The thickness of this slip layer sharply decreases at distances on the order of undeformed brush thickness. The corresponding effective viscosity of the layer sharply increases from the solvent viscosity to a much higher value, but this increase is smaller than the jump of the normal force resulting in the drop of the friction coefficient. At stronger compression we predict the second sharp increase of the shear stress corresponding to interpenetration of the chains from the opposite brushes. In this regime the velocity-dependent friction coefficient between two partially interpenetrating polyelectrolyte brushes does not depend on the distance between substrates because both normal and shear forces are reciprocally proportional to the plate separation. Although lateral forces between polyelectrolyte brushes are larger than between bare surfaces, the enhancement of normal forces between opposing polyelectrolyte brushes with respect to normal forces between bare charged surfaces is much stronger resulting in lower friction coefficient. The model quantitatively demonstrates how polyelectrolyte brushes provide more effective lubrication than bare charged surfaces or neutral brushes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Zhulina, EB; Rubinstein, M

Published Date

  • 2014

Published In

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1520-5835

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1021/ma500772a