American Chemical Society
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Nanoscale MXene Interlayer and Substrate Adhesion for Lubrication: A Density Functional Theory Study

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-08-08, 16:40 authored by Edoardo Marquis, Michele Cutini, Babak Anasori, Andreas Rosenkranz, Maria Clelia Righi
Understanding the interlayer interaction at the nanoscale in two-dimensional (2D) transition metal carbides and nitrides (MXenes) is important to improve their exfoliation/delamination process and application in (nano)-tribology. The layer–substrate interaction is also essential in (nano)-tribology as effective solid lubricants should be resistant against peeling-off during rubbing. Previous computational studies considered MXenes’ interlayer coupling with oversimplified, homogeneous terminations while neglecting the interaction with underlying substrates. In our study, Ti-based MXenes with both homogeneous and mixed terminations are modeled using density functional theory (DFT). An ad hoc modified dispersion correction scheme is used, capable of reproducing the results obtained from a higher level of theory. The nature of the interlayer interactions, comprising van der Waals, dipole–dipole, and hydrogen bonding, is discussed along with the effects of MXene sheet’s thickness and C/N ratio. Our results demonstrate that terminations play a major role in regulating MXenes’ interlayer and substrate adhesion to iron and iron oxide and, therefore, lubrication, which is also affected by an external load. Using graphene and MoS2 as established references, we verify that MXenes’ tribological performance as solid lubricants can be significantly improved by avoiding −OH and −F terminations, which can be done by controlling terminations via post-synthesis processing.