Tribology Letters

, 67:25 | Cite as

Effect of Gas Environment on Mechanochemical Reaction: A Model Study with Tribo-Polymerization of α-Pinene in Inert, Oxidative, and Reductive Gases

  • Xin He
  • Austin Pollock
  • Seong H. KimEmail author
Original Paper


Mechanically induced or assisted chemical reactions readily occur in many tribological interfaces; however, the reactants involved in such reactions are often not well understood. Using the tribo-polymerization of α-pinene as a model system, this study investigated how the surround gas environment influences the surface chemistry of substrate controlling the tribochemical reactivity. Based on the hypothesis that oxidative chemisorption of α-pinene at the sliding solid surface plays critical role, inert (dry N2), oxidative (dry air), and reductive (10% H2 in Ar) gas environments were chosen to alter the degree of surface oxidation in the sliding contact. Comparing the tribo-polymerization yield of α-pinene on two highly reactive substrates (Pd and CuO) and two relatively inert substrates (diamond-like carbon and silicon oxide), it was found that the oxidative gas significantly enhances the tribochemical reactivity of α-pinene. Infrared spectroscopy analysis was employed to confirm that the chemisorption of α-pinene on the surface in the oxidative gas environment plays a critical role. The gas environment was also found to affect the chemical composition and elastic modulus of the tribo-polymer products.


Mechanochemistry Vapor-phase lubrication Tribochemistry Boundary lubrication Environment effect 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. CMMI-1435766).

Supplementary material

11249_2019_1136_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1147 KB)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Research InstitutePennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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