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Advances in Tribology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 492858, 16 pages
Research Article

Effect of Nitrogen Implantation on Metal Transfer during Sliding Wear under Ambient Conditions

Department of Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular Engineering, Institute of Materials Science, University of CT, Storrs, CT 06269, USA

Received 21 September 2012; Accepted 3 December 2012

Academic Editor: Patrick De Baets

Copyright © 2013 Luke Autry and Harris Marcus. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nitrogen implantation in Interstitial-Free steel was evaluated for its impact on metal transfer and 1100 Al rider wear. It was determined that nitrogen implantation reduced metal transfer in a trend that increased with dose; the Archard wear coefficient reductions of two orders of magnitude were achieved using a dose of 2e17 ions/cm2, 100 kV. Cold-rolling the steel and making volumetric wear measurements of the Al-rider determined that the hardness of the harder material had little impact on volumetric wear or friction. Nitrogen implantation had chemically affected the tribological process studied in two ways: directly reducing the rider wear and reducing the fraction of rider wear that ended up sticking to the ISF steel surface. The structure of the nitrogen in the ISF steel did not affect the tribological behavior because no differences in friction/wear measurements were detected after postimplantation heat treating to decompose the as-implanted ε-Fe3N to γ-Fe4N. The fraction of rider-wear sticking to the steel depended primarily on the near-surface nitrogen content. Covariance analysis of the debris oxygen and nitrogen contents indicated that nitrogen implantation enhanced the tribo-oxidation process with reference to the unimplanted material. As a result, the reduction in metal transfer was likely related to the observed tribo-oxidation in addition to the introduction of nitride wear elements into the debris. The primary Al rider wear mechanism was stick-slip, and implantation reduced the friction and friction noise associated with that wear mechanism. Calculations based on the Tabor junction growth formula indicate that the mitigation of the stick-slip mechanism resulted from a reduced adhesive strength at the interface during the sticking phase.