Femtosecond laser-induced periodic surface structures on steel and titanium alloy for tribological applications
Laser-induced periodic surface structures (LIPSS, ripples) were generated on stainless steel (100Cr6) and titanium alloy (Ti6Al4V) surfaces upon irradiation with multiple femtosecond laser pulses (pulse duration 30 fs, central wavelength 790 nm). The experimental conditions (laser fluence, spatial spot overlap) were optimized in a sample-scanning geometry for the processing of large surface areas (5 × 5 mm2) covered homogeneously by the nanostructures. The irradiated surface regions were subjected to white light interference microscopy and scanning electron microscopy revealing spatial periods around 600 nm. The tribological performance of the nanostructured surface was characterized by reciprocal sliding against a ball of hardened steel in paraffin oil and in commercial engine oil as lubricants, followed by subsequent inspection of the wear tracks. For specific conditions, on the titanium alloy a significant reduction of the friction coefficient by a factor of more than two was observed on the laser-irradiated (LIPSS-covered) surface when compared to the non-irradiated one, indicating the potential benefit of laser surface structuring for tribological applications.