In this work, we have explored the application of poly(L-lysine)-g-poly(ethylene glycol) (PLL-g-PEG) as an additive to improve the lubricating properties of water for metal-oxide-based tribo-systems. The adsorption behavior of the polymer onto both silicon oxide and iron oxide has been characterized by optical waveguide lightmode spectroscopy (OWLS). Several tribological approaches, including ultra-thin-film interferometry, the mini traction machine (MTM), and pin-on-disk tribometry, have been employed to characterize the frictional properties of the oxide tribo-systems in various contact regimes. The polymer appears to form a protective layer on the tribological interface in aqueous buffer solution and improves both the load-carrying and boundary-layer-lubrication properties of water.
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