The mechanisms behind the tribological behaviour of polymer matrix composites reinforced with TiO2 nanoparticles

Wen Hao Kan, Li Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In this present work, the sliding wear behaviour of hybrid polymer nanocomposites was investigated under different loading conditions and against different counterface roughness. Two different polymers matrices, epoxy and polyamide 66, with classic micro-sized short carbon fiber and graphite flakes as tribo-fillers were investigated with and without TiO2 reinforcing nanoparticles. It was found that the synergistic effect between nanoparticles and micro-sized fillers on friction and wear performance depended on the tribological system involved. In particular, for epoxy-based composites, the incorporation of TiO2 nanoparticles was only beneficial against a sufficiently rough disc but detrimental otherwise. Whilst for polyamide nanocomposites, the combination of nanoparticles and other fillers resulted in low friction and wear against both rough and smooth disks, particularly at higher applied contact pressures. When the cross-sections of the transfer films were analysed using a high-resolution SEM, it was found that TiO2 nanoparticles are only beneficial if they can blend with other wear debris to form a TiO2-enriched transfer film. The strengthened film provides the support required for other dislodged TiO2 nanoparticles to achieve the rolling effect, thus reducing friction and wear. In contrast, if TiO2 cannot effectively blend into the transfer film, TiO2 nanoparticles act as an abrasive that readily abrades away the comparatively softer film, thus exposing the polymer to fresh asperities on the steel counterface, a detrimental outcome to both friction and wear. Hence, to design high wear resistant composite materials, it is important to understanding the interactions between different tribo-fillers for particular circumstances or contact conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number203754
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2021


  • Electron microscopy
  • Polymer-matrix composite
  • Sliding friction
  • Sliding wear
  • Thermal effects
  • Wear testing

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