Friction and Wear of Ceramics, by Bikramjit Basu, Mitjan Kalin and B. Venkata Manoj Kumar


Chapter 11 is to be cited as “P. S. Babu, B. Basu and G. Sundararajan, Abrasive wear of coatings, in the Friction and Wear of Materials: Principles and Case Studies authored by Bikramjit Basu, Mitjan Kalin, and B. Venkata Manoj Kumar, pp. 227–235.”

Chapter 15 is to be cited as “P. S. Babu, B. Basu and G. Sundararajan, Erosive Wear of WC-Co Coating, in the Friction and Wear of Materials: Principles and Case Studies authored by Bikramjit Basu, Mitjan Kalin and B. Venkata Manoj Kumar, pp. 279–294.”

Friction and Wear of Ceramics

Principles and Case Studies


Bikramjit Basu

Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India


Mitjan Kalin

University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia


B. Venkata Manoj Kumar

Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee, India






About the Authors

Photo of Professor Bikramjit Basu.

Bikramjit Basu
Professor, Materials Research Center
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore,
Karnataka, India

Prof. Bikramjit Basu is currently a Professor at the Materials Research Center and holds Associate Faculty position at Center for Biosystems Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. He is currently Visiting Professor at University of Manchester, UK and Guest Professor at Wuhan University of Technology, China. After his undergraduate and postgraduate degree in Metallurgical Engineering from NIT Durgapur and IISc respectively, he earned his PhD in the area of Engineering Ceramics at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium in March, 2001. Following a brief post‐doctoral stint at University of California, Santa Barbara; he served as a faculty of Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur during 2001–2011. Bikramjit’s international standing and impact on the field are illustrated by his prolific publication record (>300 peer‐reviewed research papers, including 28 papers in Journal of American Ceramic Society and 35 papers in journals of high impact factor, more than 20 invited review papers, total citation >10,500 and H‐index: 54). He has authored 7 textbooks, 2 edited books and one research monograph in the interdisciplinary areas of Biomaterials, Ceramics, Tribology and Energy. In addition to writing textbooks, he has created two online course curricula, including one on Tribology, which are watched over 9000 times worldwide through National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).

Prof. Basu’s contributions in Engineering Science have been widely recognised. He is the first biomaterials scientist to receive in 2013, India’s most coveted science and technology award, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, which was first awarded in 1958. A Chartered Engineer of UK, he is an elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (2020) and of the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering (2020). He is also Fellow of the American Ceramic Society (2019), American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (2017), Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining, UK (2017), National Academy of Medical Sciences, India (2017), Indian National Academy of Engineering (2015), Society for Biomaterials and Artificial Organs (2014) and National Academy of Sciences, India (2013). He remains the only Indian from India to receive the prestigious ‘Coble Award for Young Scholars’ (2008) from the American Ceramic Society. He is also a recipient of the Abdul Kalam Technology Innovation National Fellowship from Indian National Academy of Engineering (2020). The nominee has established independent research programs, first at IIT Kanpur (2001–2011) and lately at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (2011–till date).

Bikramjit has made truly outstanding contributions at the frontiers of Engineering Ceramics, biomedical engineering and lately, solar energy. A common thread that runs through these research programs is his exceptional understanding in manipulating processing approaches (spark plasma sintering, 3D inkjet powder printing, etc.) and in combining computational analysis with performance‐qualifying property measurements or prototype testing; while establishing process‐structure‐property linkages for a wide spectrum of oxide and non‐oxide ceramics. A major research theme has been to enhance the fracture resistance through tailoring of process parameters and manipulation of microstructure at multiple length scales. Another major contribution has been to develop microstructure‐wear resistance relationship for ceramics/cermets in unlubricated fretting/sliding condition and to establish analytical framework for tribochemical/tribomechanical wear. Many of the tribology studies in his research group involved cryogenic sliding wear of materials for space technology applications and erosive wear of ultra‐high temperature ceramics at elevated temperature. Over last two decades, he has groomed a large number of PhD students, who have now established independent research programs on structural ceramics and tribology as faculty members in IITs/NITs in India.

Photo of Professor Dr. Mitjan Kalin.

Dr. Mitjan Kalin
Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
University of Ljubljana
Ljubljana, Slovenia

Dr. Kalin's areas of research are the wear and friction mechanisms of advanced materials, nanoscale interface phenomena, and boundary films for novel green‐lubrication technologies, including his widely recognized contribution to the lubrication of DLC coatings. He has delivered over 50 invited lectures worldwide, including 10 keynote and plenary lectures at the most renowned conferences in the field of tribology. He has published over 150 peer‐reviewed journal papers with 3200 citations and an h‐index of 31. He also published 10 book chapters, 2 books, and holds 11 patents, including US and EU patents. He acted as a member of the editorial boards of eight international journals, Associate Editor of the ASME Journal of Tribology and Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering – Tribology Section. Since 2012, he has served as the Editor‐in‐Chief of Lubrication Science (Wiley). In his career, he has led over 35 large, three‐year projects, most of them international. He also collaborated in industrial projects with renowned companies in Europe, Japan, and the United States in over 140 R&D projects. He has received several awards, including a prestigious ASME Burt L. Newkirk Award (2006), Fellow of STLE (2012), the two highest Slovenian state awards, namely Zois Prize (2006) and Zois Award (2015), and the Top 10 scientific achievements at the University of Ljubljana (2014). Since 2010, he has been a Full Professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, where he is the Head of the Laboratory for Tribology and Interface Nanotechnology and the Chair for Tribology and Maintenance Technology. He is currently also a visiting professor at Luleå University of Technology, Sweden. Since 2013, he has been a coordinator of a Joint European Master Programme on the Tribology of Surfaces and Interfaces (TRIBOS) under the Erasmus Mundus umbrella. In 2019, he also became a coordinator of the European Joint Doctorate programme GreenTRIBOS, an EU Marie Skłodowska–Curie Actions initiative. In 2007–2011, he was elected as a Vice‐Dean for Research; in 2013–2017, as a Vice‐Dean for Master and Doctoral Studies; and in 2017–2021, as Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. He was also elected as Executive Board Member and Deputy President of the International Tribology Council (ITC) for the period 2017–2021.

Photo of Dr. B. Venkata Manoj Kumar.

B. Venkata Manoj Kumar
Associate Professor
Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee
Uttarakhand, India

Dr. B. Venkata Manoj Kumar is currently working as Associate Professor at Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee. Dr. Kumar obtained his PhD degree from IIT Kanpur in November 2007. Subsequently, he worked as a post‐doctoral researcher at Seoul National University from January 2008 to January 2009, Research Assistant Professor at the University of Seoul from February 2009 to February 2011, and Assistant Professor at IIT Roorkee from March 2011 to April 2016. With the primary theme of understanding microstructure–property relations, Dr. Kumar has been actively involved in processing advanced ceramic systems like SiC, ZrB2, B4C, Si3N4, TiCN‐Ni cermets, etc., and studying the influence of microstructural characteristics on their material removal mechanisms when subjected to sliding, fretting, erosion, or machining conditions. He is also co‐instructor for a National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) online course on friction and war of materials. His research work is being supported by both government agencies and private industries in India. His research ideas are also supported by foreign funding agencies through bilateral projects. He has so far supervised four PhD theses. He has published around 55 peer‐reviewed research articles with more than 1300 citations and h‐index of 20. He has also published three review articles and three book chapters. He is presently a member of the editorial board for the Tribology and Lubricants journal published by the Korean Tribology Society. He is co‐inventor of the filed two Indian patents and delivered more than 40 lectures in reputed conferences.


The continuing growth of manufacturing and energy sectors demands the development of materials with superior performance in harsh tribological conditions over a longer lifetime. Among advanced materials, structural ceramics are increasingly used in tribological applications, because of their unique combination of superior properties. It is therefore important to understand the phenomena of friction and wear, from the viewpoint of ceramic science and engineering. However, most of the available books on tribology primarily provide an understanding of the mechanics and design of components, with less focus on materials aspects.

In a significant departure from conventional “mechanical engineering” viewpoint, this book has dealt with the essential concepts of tribology as well as basics of processing and properties of ceramics and ceramic coatings. Also, I recognize the authors have put their best efforts to analyze their own published results, related to sliding, erosion, and machining of ceramic components and systems. This part is particularly useful for the readers of varied background in recognizing microstructure–mechanical–tribological property correlation. Besides, the grand collection of conceptual and analytical questions in the Appendix section will be greatly useful in assessing the knowledge of the undergraduate and postgraduate students, wishing to pursue the field of tribology in their academic careers. This feature distinguishes the present book from currently available other tribology books.

I strongly feel the tribology community across the Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering domain will be greatly benefited from this new source of knowledge in the rapidly growing multidisciplinary field of tribology of ceramics.

Dr. Sanak Mishra

President, Indian National Academy of Engineering

New Delhi, India


Among all the engineering materials, advanced ceramics are being widely investigated in the last few decades for their potential use at tribological contacts, particularly under extreme conditions. Ceramic cutting tools, bearings, seals, hip joints, and coatings are some of the important advanced ceramic components developed in the past 30–40 years. The tribological performance of the ceramic components can be improved through innovative process design and microstructural engineering. While most of the presently available books on tribology are written by mechanical engineers or researchers from the mechanics background, there is an urgent need for understanding the ceramics tribology from materials science perspective.

In this context, I find this book highlights the importance of the microstructural characteristics–material property–tribological performance relationship for a range of advanced ceramic materials. The fundamental concepts of the processing and mechanical properties of ceramics are introduced for this purpose. This is particularly important for the researchers from the mechanical engineering discipline as they would acquire knowledge as how to tune the processing conditions to tailor the mechanical properties. This book also reviews some of the fundamental mechanisms of friction, wear, and lubrication. A range of case studies highlights how to design ceramic composites for better wear resistance.

I appreciate the authors' efforts in compiling seminal studies from their own research to fit into the broader framework of the book and helping the readers to realize the translation of basic tribology science to applications. Particularly, the description of the wear micromechanisms is expected to provide a strong background to the readers toward designing/developing ceramic composites for tribological components. This book has important pedagogical feature as a textbook with the rich collection of objective and subjective problems on important issues of ceramic tribology and will be very useful for students and practicing scientists.

Prof. Dr. Koji Kato

Nihon University, Japan

Preface: The Most Influential Science that Needs to Be Better Understood

Tribology is widely defined as the science and technology of interacting surfaces in relative motion. Of enormous practical value to key engineering industries – from energy, manufacturing, nuclear, thermal to biomedical – the field of tribology is drawing ever‐increasing attention in recent decades across the multiple engineering disciplines.

The Paradox: How to Solve It

Yet the tribology field suffers from a paradox. As distinguished tribologist, Professor John Tichy of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), New York, once said, “Tribology is the most common area of science in the world that nobody knows about.” The field has grown into one of the most influential sciences encountered in everyday life, drawing the most influential researchers from multidisciplinary and cross‐disciplinary backgrounds.

Ceramics and their composites, despite their unique combination of hardness, elastic modulus, compressive strength, resistance against oxidation, and creep, find limited tribological application in the market on a commercial scale. Therefore, the development of advanced (bulk or coating) ceramic materials and the progress in research for superior tribological performance requires knowledge on microstructural engineering via innovative process design, and understanding the physics of material degradation. The improved understanding of the contribution of microstructural features and micromechanisms on tribological performance of ceramic components is essential. This helps in extending component lifetime and achieving higher energy efficiency.

The tribology of ceramics and ceramic composites – which comprises most of the applications in the area – is still not considered a focus area in many industries, or in academia, in spite of its remarkable potential and contribution. Most engineering students receive few hours of instruction in tribology of ceramics, most engineers and researchers do not have adequate grounding in this area, and most textbooks do not deal with real‐world problems worth solving.

The present book highlights the importance of the correlation among microstructure, mechanical properties, friction, and wear resistance for a range of selected ceramic systems. The development of bulk ceramics and ceramic coatings, and understanding on their mechanical properties, has also been discussed in detail. The exploration of friction and wear mechanisms of several engineering ceramic systems provides a thorough background to the readers on how to design and to develop novel materials for tribological applications.

The Transition: Classroom to Industry

The perceived need to meet stringent needs of superior performance of ceramic components in tribological conditions has necessitated a book of this length and depth. The present book is the result of authors' several years of teaching and research in materials tribology, engineering ceramics, and composites at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee, and the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Overall, the book is designed to enrich the knowledge on basic concepts on ceramic processing and tribology, and to upgrade the understanding of state‐of‐the‐art research findings of advanced ceramic composites. Thus, it will be highly useful for beginners and students pursuing the tribology of ceramics, and for experienced researchers and practitioners engaged in understanding the science of tribology.

The Approach: Decoding the Chapters

The book is essentially structured into six sections, spanning 18 chapters. For those uninitiated in basic ceramics and tribology, the first section is a run‐through of the fundamentals: processing, microstructure, and mechanical properties of bulk ceramics and ceramic coatings. The second section targets the more advanced complexities: contact surface characteristics, friction, interface temperature, wear, wear mechanisms, and lubrication. Keeping in view of the significance of advanced ceramic systems in improving wear resistance and product lifetime, significant results from the authors' own research groups are explained in three subsequent chapters. In the concluding section, the major issues that demand urgent attention, and future directions of tribology toward an improved and new generation of structural ceramic systems, are provided. In addition, a large collection of different types of qualitative and quantitative questions on tribology of ceramic materials is presented as Appendix, both for the novice and experienced tribologists, to assess their knowledge on the subject.

To Conclude: A Word of Thanks

Recognizing the collaboration over the last two decades, Professor Bikramjit Basu specifically acknowledges some of his students, including Debasish Sarkar, Subhadip Bodhak, Rohit Khanna, Manisha, G. B. Raju, T. Venkateswaran, Amartya Mukhopadhyay, and Shekhar Nath. Professor M. Kalin acknowledges cooperation and support from all his co‐workers at Laboratory for Triblogy and Interface Nanotechnology (TINT) at University of Ljubljana, and numerous co‐workers and friends worldwide in the field of ceramics tribology that shared the knowledge, experience and discussions in many occasions over more than two decades of engagement in this filed. Professor B. Venkata Manoj Kumar would like to sincerely thank all his students, particularly Vipin, Sandan, Vikas, Ashish Selokar, Suneel, Rajavel, Yashpal, Sonali, Smita, and Ashish Nayan, and his collaborators Professors Young‐Wook Kim, Sinhoo Kang, S. K. Nath, and Sai Ramudu Meka, and Dr. T. Venkateswaran. The unconditional help from Surya, Nilesh, Rea, Nihal, Nandita and Prerana in each stage of preparation of the book is acknowledged. Professor Basu would like to convey heartfelt thanks to his father Mr. Manoj Mohan Basu for critically checking some part of the manuscript. Professor Basu is particularly grateful to Dr. Damayanti Datta for her help in shaping the Preface of this book. Professors Basu and Kumar would like to express their gratitude to Mr. Amit Ganguli and Mr. N. M. Dube for exciting discussion and suggestions, during the writing of this book. If someone who has helped in completing the book is not acknowledged here, authors sincerely admit that it is purely unintentional, but not due to lack of appreciation.

Further, the authors, Basu and Kumar would like to gratefully acknowledge their respective institutes, IISc Bangalore and IIT Roorkee. They would also like to express their sincere gratitude for the financial support received from various Government of India agencies, including the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the Department of Science & Technology (DST), and the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), which facilitated research in the field of tribology of advanced materials at IIT Kanpur, IISc Bangalore, and IIT Roorkee. One of the authors (Kalin) acknowledges the steady financial support from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, and the Slovenian Research Agency over the years. The authors are grateful to Professor Koji Kato and Dr. Sanak Mishra for writing the foreword of this book. They are particularly thankful to Professor Kato for critical comments on some aspects of this book. Most importantly, the authors would like to convey heartfelt appreciation to their respective parents and other members of the families: Pritha and Prithvijit; Janja and Matija; and Lakshmi, Sugatri, and Surag, for their encouragement and support, while writing this book.

Bikramjit Basu

Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India

Mitjan Kalin

University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

B. Venkata Manoj Kumar

Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee, India

Section I
Fundamentals of Ceramics: Processing and Properties