Novel Boundary Lubrication Mechanisms from Molecular Pillows of Lubricin Brush-Coated Graphene Oxide Nanosheets

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There are numerous biomedical applications where the interfacial shearing of surfaces can cause wear and friction, which can lead to a variety of medical complications such as inflammation, irritation, and even bacterial infection. We introduce a novel nanomaterial additive comprised of two-dimensional graphene oxide nanosheets (2D-NSCs) coated with lubricin (LUB) to reduce the amount of tribological stress in biomedical settings, particularly at low shear rates where boundary lubrication dominates. LUB is a glycoprotein found in the articular joints of mammals and has recently been discovered as an ocular surface boundary lubricant. The ability of LUB to self-assemble into a "telechelic"brush layer on a variety of surfaces was exploited here to coat the top and bottom surfaces of the ultrathin 2D-NSCs in solution, effectively creating a biopolymer-coated nanosheet. A reduction in friction of almost an order of magnitude was measured at a bioinspired interface. This reduction was maintained after repeated washing (5×), suggesting that the large aspect ratio of the 2D-NSCs facilitates effective lubrication even at diluted concentrations. Importantly, and unlike LUB-only treatment, the lubrication effect can be eliminated over 15 rinsing cycles, suggesting that the LUB-coated 2D-NSCs do not exhibit any binding interactions with the shearing surfaces. The effective lubricating properties of the 2D-NSCs combined with full reversibility through rinsing make the LUB-coated 2D-NSCs an intriguing candidate as a lubricant for biomedical applications.

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Australian Research Council



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