This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Tribological and Electrical Effects of Nanoparticle and Proprietary Lubricants




Crilly, Larkin

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Mechanical Engineering


Electrical systems of any type rely upon electrical connectors or contacts; these may be found in places like computers, light switches, or electric vehicles and are present in a wide range of environments as a result. These contacts can often be subject to degradation from such things as fatigue and wear, particularly if they exist in machinery with a lot of vibrations; if this degradation makes the electrical contact resistance across the connector/contact change by too large an amount (how much depends on the application), the contact can fail or cause the system it is in to fail. As such, some contacts are lubricated to mitigate these effects. However, options are limited, as many lubricants and/or additives (e.g., ZDDP) are insulating or form insulating tribofilms. Nanoparticles have been the subject of much research in tribology for their unique properties, including friction reduction. More recently, some focus has been placed on their potential to be used in electrical contact applications. This thesis focuses on an investigation of the friction, wear, and electrical contact resistance properties at low loading (2N) of a dodecane-based silver nanoparticle lubricant as compared to a proprietary option, along with exploring the effects of adding the silver nanoparticles to this proprietary lubricant. Some discussion of the stability of these lubricants, particularly when adding particles to the proprietary lubricant, is undertaken along with an exploration of what lubrication regimes were present for the different lubricants.