Lubricant viscosity is a key driver in both the tribological performance and energy efficiency of a lubricated contact. Elastohydrodynamic (EHD) lubrication produces very high pressures and shear rates, conditions hard to replicate using conventional rheometry. In situ rheological measurements within a typical contact are therefore important to investigate how a fluid behaves under such conditions. Molecular rotors provide such an opportunity to extract the local viscosity of a fluid under EHD lubrication. The validity of such an application is shown by comparing local viscosity measurements obtained using molecular rotors and fluorescence lifetime measurements, in a model EHD lubricant, with reference measurements using conventional rheometry techniques. The appropriateness of standard methods used in tribology for high-pressure rheometry (combining friction and film thickness measurements) has been verified when the flow of EHD lubricant is homogeneous and linear. A simple procedure for calibrating the fluorescence lifetime of molecular rotors at elevated pressure for viscosity measurements is proposed.
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