Friction plays a major role in contributing to the global energy consumptions and reducing it would bring about major economic and environmental advantages. Organic friction modifiers are cost-effective and environmentally friendly additives which are included in the lubricant packages to improve performances. Their friction-reducing properties are connected to their adsorption state on steel surfaces. This study applies Infrared Reflection Absorption Spectroscopy (IRRAS) to probe the oleic acid tribofilm on microscopic areas of the sample (micro-IRRAS). The recorded spectra are interpreted by density functional theory (DFT) calculations and provide useful information about the effect of the tribological phenomena on the adsorption state and molecular orientation of the oleic acid friction modifier. The oleic acid molecules adsorb on the surface forming both monodentate and bridging configurations on the iron atoms. IRRAS data show that under the effect of friction the molecules tilt towards the steel surface.
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