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Nanometer thick films to protect friction surfaces in Engine Components

Technology #011-014-hsu

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Stephen M. Hsu
Managed By
Jerry Comanescu
Licensing Associate (202) 994-8975
Patent Protection

PCT Patent Application Filed

As crude oil price continues to increase, the urgency to substantially increase fuel economy of cars and trucks continues to rise. The scientists at George Washington University, led by Prof. S. Hsu, developed a cost-effective way to control friction between sliding surfaces.  When this technology is applied to engine components, substantial reduction of friction can be achieved, hence improving fuel economy.

When an automobile runs, the components of the engine, like pistons and bearings, come in contact and move with respect to each other. This contact causes friction which adversely impacts oil consumption and wears out engine components earlier than their technology life.

Prof. Hsu's earlier textured surface technology controls friction at the sliding interfaces and is capable of functioning under a wide range of speeds and loads.  However, when the loads are high enough, wear occurs.  In the present invention, he discloses the use of a chemically bonded  lubricating  film only nanometers thick on a diamond-like- carbon film (DLC) on top of the textured surface to extend the life of the DLC film by order of magnitudes.  The chemically bonded film consists of a molecular assembly that is bonded with the DLC surface and is covered by a polymeric canopy to prevent evaporation.  The film also creates an elastic surface to reduce damage from tiny rough spots called asperities of the sliding surfaces.

This invention allows the use of DLC films in engines to substantially decrease friction while increasing the life of surface textured engine components several fold as compared to unprotected surfaces.


  • Reduce friction of DLC films which cover engine components.
  • Increase life of DLC covered engine component.
  • Increase fuel economy and energy efficiency.


  • DLC do not react with conventional antiwear additives such as zinc dithiophosphates.
  • Works in variable load and speed conditions.
  • Consistent efficiency.
  • Extended life expectancy of textured engine components.

Stage of Development: 

  • A prototype surface has been made.