Superlubricity of Materials: Progress, Potential, and Challenges
This review paper provides a comprehensive overview of the phenomenon of superlubricity, its associated material characteristics, and its potential applications. Superlubricity, the state of near-zero friction between two surfaces, presents significant potential for enhancing the efficiency of mechanical systems, thus attracting significant attention in both academic and industrial realms. We explore the atomic/molecular structures that enable this characteristic and discuss notable superlubric materials, including graphite, diamond-like carbon, and advanced engineering composites. The review further elaborates on the methods of achieving superlubricity at both nanoscale and macroscale levels, highlighting the influence of environmental conditions. We also discuss superlubricity's applications, ranging from mechanical systems to energy conservation and biomedical applications. Despite the promising potential, the realization of superlubricity is laden with challenges. We address these technical difficulties, specifically those related to achieving and maintaining superlubricity, and the issues encountered in scaling up for industrial applications. The paper also underscores the sustainability concerns associated with superlubricity and proposes potential solutions. We conclude with a discussion of the possible future research directions and the impact of technological innovations in this field. This review thus provides a valuable resource for researchers and industry professionals engaged in the development and application of superlubric materials.