Project title:  Effect of Polymer Brush Topology on Friction Reduction

Supervisors:  Professor Daniele Dini, Dr James Ewen Zoe Chu

Synovial joints are impressive bio-tribological systems that regularly undergo pressure of up to 100atm with friction coefficients as low as 0.001. Throughout an individual's life, as joints to exposed to increased usage, the articular cartilage on the ends of joints often degrades, leading to chronic illnesses such as ostheoarthritis. A synthetic material with the same tribological capabilities as articular cartilages has yet to be produced but can be simplified as a collection of polymer brushes and varying topologies in synoptic fluid. The project uses molecular dynamic simulations to investigate the effect of different polymer brush topologies on tribological properties of the molecular system. The simulations are performed using Large-scale Atomic/Molecular Massively Parallel Simulator (LAMMPS). Linear, branched and looped polymer brushes will be analysed at equilibrium, compression and shear. The simplified simulation models will provide a greater depth of understanding in the effect that topology has on lubrication properties.