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Surface Engineering and Tribology - About


 Advance scientific understanding and materials development for critical chemomechanical interfaces for energy efficiency and sustainability 


Innovate and develop coating, ceramic, fluid, colloid, and nanomaterial technologies for enhanced wear/corrosion protection and thermal management in various transportation, energy, and national security applications

R&D Scope

 The Surface Engineering and Tribology Group conducts world-leading R&D in addressing wear, corrosion, and thermal issues using advanced materials solutions. Our current interests include development of high-performance coatings for thermal and friction management, eco-friendly lubricating and heat transfer fluids, high-temperature ceramics and composites, additive and advanced manufacturing processes, and functionalized nanomaterials. In wide collaboration with industry and academia, the group is making great impact on the nation’s energy and national security. The diverse research portfolio is sponsored by various DOE programs, including Vehicle Technologies, Bioenergy Technologies, Solar Energy Technologies, Fuel-Cell Technologies, Waterpower Technologies, Advanced Manufacturing, Nuclear Energy, and Fossil Energy, other federal funding agencies, such as the Department of Defense and Department of Treasury, as well as industry.

 Core Competencies

  • Tribology and Lubrication
  • Tribosystem analysis for failure modes and wear mechanisms based on contact mechanics and lubrication modeling and materials characterization
  • Eco-friendly, high-efficiency lubricant and heat transfer fluid technologies, e.g., ionic liquids and organic-modified nanoparticles
  • Superlubricity and wear-resistant coatings and surface treatments, e.g., carbon nanotube (CNT) coating and titanium oxygen-diffusion
  • ASTM standard and customized tribological testing under various wear modes for broad applications including harsh conditions involving high temperatures, vacuum and controlled gas environments, and corrosive chemicals
  • Multi-scale topographical and hardness measurements of surfaces and thin films
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Chemical vapor deposition/infiltration (CVD/CVI) for ceramics, composites, and CNTs
  • Additive Manufacturing (collaboration with MDF), e.g., polymer infiltration pyrolysis and reactive melt infiltration of ceramics and composites
  • Combustion synthesis (glycine-nitrate type)
  • Coating and powder/slurry processing, e.g., dip,  screen, and stencil printing tape casting, slot-die, pressing, lamination, extrusion, and slip casting
  • Colloidal characterization, e.g., zeta potential, particle size, surface area, TGA, solution calorimetry, rheology, and wetting
  • Nanomaterials
  • Carbon, ceramic, metallic, and organometallic nanoparticles/nanotubes/nanowires by CVD, organic synthesis, and electrochemical processes
  • Functionalization of nanomaterials by organic surface modifications
  • Nanomaterials and nanostructures characterization



Distinguished R&D Staff and Group Leader of Surface Engineering & Tribology
Jun Qu 2022