Liquid Crystal Lubrication: A Promising Alternative to Greases in Vacuum and Clean Environments

Liquid Crystal Lubrication: A Promising Alternative to Greases in Vacuum and Clean Environments

When it comes to maintaining motion components in sophisticated and high-vacuum applications, lubrication greases that typically last a relatively long time tend to have poor outgassing characteristics. This can be frustrating when you’re designing semiconductor fabrication or medical and life science equipment intended for clean environments. For these and other applications, it can be hard to find a means of lubrication that can deliver both superior lubricating and outgassing characteristics.

IKO has developed a lubricant that aims to bridge the gap between high-performance and superior outgassing with the purpose of eliminating the trade-off that has long vexed engineers designing machines for vacuum applications. Liquid Crystal Lube technology is a promising alternative to conventional lubricating greases composed of base oils and thickeners.

liquid crystal lubrication

Conventional greases have dissimilar molecules that do not adhere well to metal surfaces, and they can evaporate easily. Liquid crystal lubricants are completely different. When applied to surfaces that make contact, this new class of lubricant forms molecular aggregates that create slippery “ordered boundary layers” that easily slide past each other. This unique molecular structure adheres better to metal surfaces and minimizes evaporation.

The World’s First Liquid Crystal Lubricant Outperforms Conventional Lubricants in Tests
The Liquid Crystal Lubricant Series of products developed by IKO includes a lubricant formulated using only liquid crystal compounds — a groundbreaking innovation! In testing, the liquid crystal lubricant exhibited exceptional outgassing performance at 105 Pa — even at high temperatures. Here are the results:

  • Very little detection in mass spectrometry in vacuum and high temperature at 100°C and 200°C
  • Zero net weight loss in an open atmosphere, even at 100°C over 770 hours.
  • One-tenth the amount of particles compared to lithium soap-based grease.

The testing also identified other performance benefits, such as:

  • Long-term durability, more than 40 times that of fluorine grease at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, and up to six times more than other grease types, even in high temperatures.
  • Lower rolling resistance than that of fluorine grease or consistency #2 lithium soap-based grease.

Find Out if Liquid Crystal Lubrication Is Right for Your Application
With liquid crystal lubrication technology, it is possible to overcome the challenge of creating a long-lasting lubricant with little to no outgassing. Not only does this novel lubrication method exhibit superior outgassing characteristics, it opens up possible applications in semiconductor fabrication and other high-vacuum environments, or sophisticated applications such as space, life science and robotics.
Liquid Crystal Lubrication Series
IKO’s Liquid Crystal Lubricant Series includes crossed roller bearings and select stainless steel version linear motion rolling guides. Our engineers are available to discuss your requirements and can assist you in determining whether liquid crystal lubrication will deliver better performance and value than conventional greases for your specific application.

Download our technical guide to see how IKO’s new liquid crystal lubrication outperforms other types of grease.

For more information about liquid crystal lubrication for your application, contact us.

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