Oil-soluble ionic liquids (ILs) have been proved as effective additives in lubricant oils through tribological experiments and post-test analytical analyses. In this study, surface structures of lubricant base oil, oil-soluble ILs, and their mixtures at the air/liquid and solid/liquid interfaces have been studied using sum frequency generation (SFG) vibrational spectroscopy. At the air/base oil and air/IL interfaces, the alkyl chains of the studied compounds were shown to be conformationally disordered and their terminal methyl groups point outward at the liquid surface. The base oil dominates the air/(base oil + IL) interface due to its higher surface excess propensity and larger bulk concentration. At the solid (silica) surface, ILs adopt a structure with their charged headgroups in contact with the silica surface, while their alkyl chains are more conformationally ordered or packed compared to the air/IL interface. At the interface between silica and (base oil + IL) mixtures, ILs also preferentially adsorb to the silica surface with their layer structures somewhat different from those of ILs alone. These results showed that ILs can adsorb onto the solid surface even before tribological contacts are made. The insights obtained from this SFG study provide a better understanding of the role of ionic liquids in lubrication.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces