Moisture resistant self-lubricant coating for aerospace applications

Researchers of the CSIC at the Institute of Materials Science of Seville (ICMS)have developed a new material which reduces friction and is ideal for lubrication of components aimed to work in vacuum or space applications. This research has been selected as a cover in April’s issue of the ACS Applied Material & Interfaces magazineMost of these applications require keeping stable conditions of low friction and wear in order to guarantee the extreme reliability and precision of these mechanisms in a wide range of environmental conditions. In particular, the space mechanisms, ideally foreseen to operate in vacuum conditions, are exposed to  environmental conditions during the stages of assembly, previous testing and storage.The solid lubricant most commonly used for these applications (molybdenum sulfide, MoS2) is particularly sensitive to oxidation and environmental humidity.

Scientists at the Institute of Materials Science of Seville of the CSIC have developed a solid moisture resistant coating made of wolfram (metal also known as tungsten and commonly used as a filament of the incandescent lamps) and selenium (WSex). Its structure and chemical composition, which has been designed at the nanoscale by using the pulsed magnetron sputtering technique, enables the material to surpass the limitations of conventional lubricants based on  molybdenum sulfide.

“The novelty of this material lies in the tailored design of its structure”, says Juan Carlos Sánchez López of the CSIC’s Institute of Materials Science of  Seville, lead researcher of this project. “A progressive gradation of the material properties has been achieved through the synthesis: hard and metallic at the bottom, which provides a good adhesion to the substrate and a mechanical support, and, on the surface, soft and easy-sliding, which gives the lubricant capacity”.

This research has been recently published and selected as a cover in April’s issue of the ACS Applied Material & Interfaces magazine. The very promising results of this study, confirm the interest in carrying out deeper studies by means of a project or R+D collaboration in which the researchers of the ICMS would contribute with their experience and previous knowledge.


Juan Carlos Sánchez López
Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Sevilla (CSIC-US)
41092 Sevilla (Spain)
Tel. +34-954489579
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