Thermal decomposition of lubricant oil adsorbed on gold and oxidized iron foils.

F. M. Pan, Peter C Stair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The thermal decomposition of poly-a-olefin base lubricant oil (tridecene oligomer) adsorbed on clean gold and oxidized iron foils has been studied by x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and thermal desorption (TDS) in order to elucidate the chemical reactions associated with lubrication and wear. Thermal treatments were performed both in vacuum where the progress of reaction was monitored by XPS and TDS and in air with periodic examination of the surface by XPS. The coverage of oil was may monolayers on both surfaces at room temperature in vacuum. The intact poly-a-olefin desorbs at 130DEGREESC with an activation energy of 70kJ/mol which is equal to LAMBDAH of vapourization. Thermal decomposition of the remaining adsorbed hydrocarbon occurs above 150DEGREESC as indicated by the appearance of volatile hydrocarbon fragments and by shifts in the C(1s) binding energy. The temperature dependence of decomposition is identical on both substrates suggesting that it is not catalyzed by the surface. Under vacuum conditions the iron is reduced by surface reaction intermediates to produce carbon monoxide and metallic iron. This suggests that iron on the surface of bearings may cycle between oxidized and reduced states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1036-1039
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Vacuum Science and Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces and Films
Issue number4 , Jul.-Aug. 1987
Publication statusPublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Surfaces and Interfaces

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