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

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Self-healing tribocoatings are being developed for aerospace applications to improve the lifetime and
reduce the surface maintenance of components in motion. Here the tribo-induced self-healing behaviour
of a WS 2 /a-C 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. WS 2 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
Pages (from-to)114124
Number of pages5
JournalScripta Materialia
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2021


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


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