Self-healing WS2 tribofilms: An in-situ appraisal of mechanisms

Huatang Cao, Mingwen Bai, Beverley J Inkson, Xiangli Zhong, Jeff Th M De Hosson, Yutao Pei, Ping Xiao

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)
    29 Downloads (Pure)


    Self-healing tribocoatings are being developed for aerospace applications to improve the lifetime and reduce the maintenance of surface components in motion. Here the tribo-induced self-healing behaviour of a WS2/aC tribocoating has been evaluated for the first time by in-situ scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to evaluate the mechanisms of damage and self-recovery. In-situ SEM imaging reveals that scratch damage results in coating brittle fracture and spalling, and that Hertzian pressure affects healing rate at early stages of sliding. WS2 nanocrystallites, formed via atomic rearrangement at flexural interfaces, enable the healing of irregular damages and congruently offer superlubrication in vacuum. Such damage control in tribo-service may make flawless coatings an unnecessary prerequisite in tribo-applications.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number114124
    Number of pages5
    JournalScripta Materialia
    Early online date31 Jul 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open access article under the CC BY license.


    Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) program grant EP/R001766/1 Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials, EPSRC grants EP/R00661X/1, EP/S019367/1, EP/P025021/1 and EP/P025498/1.


    • In-situ Microscopy
    • Intelligent coating
    • Self-healing
    • Tribology
    • WS atomic arrangement

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Materials Science(all)
    • Condensed Matter Physics
    • Mechanics of Materials
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Metals and Alloys


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