Superhard and Slick Coating

Stage: Development
Argonne scientists have developed a super hard and slick nanocomposite coating (SSC) that significantly reduces friction and wear and can eliminate scuffing-related failures. The coating can be used in components of moving mechanical systems, including engines. Eliminating scuffing is especially important because it is a life-limiting factor in many components used under heavy loading or in heavy machinery, such as earth-moving and mining equipment. The SSC also increases energy efficiency by reducing friction by as much as 80%. SSCs can be produced at moderate temperatures (200–400°C) on almost any kind of metallic substrates at high growth rates.

Argonne’s SSCs are based on special formulations of hard and soft phases that provide friction coefficients of 0.02 to 0.05 under boundary lubricated sliding conditions and prevent wear. Therefore, the SSCs can extend wear life, reduce maintenance costs, and reduce environmental emissions by reducing fuel consumption.

Argonne researchers have collaborated with Galleon International and Hauzer Technocoating to develop a production-scale deposition system to meet the demands of large-volume applications in the transportation and manufacturing sectors. The new system uses a modified version of existing plasma coating equipment that is well-suited for demonstrating flexible, production-scale coating for large-volume industrial applications. The SSC is unique in that the ingredients used in its synthesis were predicted by using a crystal-chemical model proposed by the developers of the SSC technology. In the collaborations, the scientists are using special coating ingredients that are predicted by using the crystal-chemical model.

Applications and Industries

  • Auto industry: engine and drive-train components, such as power transmission and transaxle components and fuel injectors
  • Manufacturing
  • Mechanical systems: gears, bearings, piston pins, valves
  • Lightweight materials and steel components


  • Superhard and super tough—prevents crack initiation and growth in critical components
  • Extreme wear resistance; virtually zero wear under lubricated sliding conditions
  • Excellent compatibility with oils, greases, and other fluids
  • Improves engine performance
  • Helps reduce emissions
  • Cuts energy costs
  • Applicable to complex shapes