Hydrophobin proteins (also known as fungal adhesion proteins) adsorbed and formed a lubricating monolayer film on a stainless steel surface.
The use of water as a lubricant in certain applications holds several advantages due to its environmentally-safe and non-toxic nature, but employing it is challenging due to its low viscosity. In this study, scientists from Finland and Germany led by Timo Hakala looked at using hydrophobin proteins to aid water lubrication between two stainless steel surfaces.
The protein layer that was formed on the steel significantly reduced the friction and wear on the two steel surfaces. A higher water content in the film could be achieved by attaching a carbohydrate moiety to the protein, which resulted in a decrease in the friction and wear on the steel. The water content could be controlled by varying the conditions.
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Adhesion and tribological properties of hydrophobin proteins in aqueous lubrication on stainless steel surfaces, Timo J. Hakala, Päivi Laaksonen, Vesa Saikko, Tiina Ahlroos, Aino Helle, Riitta Mahlberg, Hendrik Hähl, Karin Jacobs , Petri Kuosmanen, Markus B. Linder and Kenneth Holmberg, RSC Adv., 2012, DOI: 10.1039/C2RA21018E
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