As NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover continues to explore the surface of Mars, scientists on Earth have developed a new nanoscale metal carbide that could act as a "superlubricant" to reduce wear and tear on future rovers.

Researchers in Missouri University of Science and Technology's chemistry department and Argonne National Laboratory's Center for Nanoscale Materials, working with a class of two-dimensional nanomaterials known as MXenes, have discovered that the materials work well to reduce . The materials also should perform better than conventional oil-based lubricants in extreme environments, says Dr. Vadym Mochalin, associate professor of chemistry at Missouri S&T, who is leading the research.

"These superlubric materials are of special interest for advanced anti-wear and lubrication applications in extreme conditions, like those now experienced by the Perseverance rover on Mars," Mochalin says. He and his colleagues describe their discovery in a paper published in the March 2021 edition of the journal Materials Today Advances ("Achieving superlubricity with 2D transition metal carbides (MXenes) and MXene/graphene coatings").

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