Professor Jean Michel Martin of Ecole Centrale de Lyon, France awarded Tribology Gold Medal for 2019

date: 21.09.2020

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London, has announced that the winner of the 2019 Gold Medal for Tribology is Professor Jean Michel Martin of Ecole Centrale de Lyon, France.

Awarded in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Tribology, in particular for:

  • elucidating the friction modifying mechanisms of additives under boundary lubrication
  • the discovery of superlubricity of MoS2 in an ultrahigh vacuum
  • identifying the mechanisms of the action of nano-lubricants and diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings for industrial applications
  • developing the use of computer simulations in tribology for increasing the reliability of mechanical components and safety.

Professor Jean Michel Martin was born in Burgundy, France, in 1948. He graduated as a chemical engineer in 1972 from the Ecole Supérieure de Chimie Industrielle de Lyon and was awarded his Ph.D Thesis in Material Science and Engineering from the Université de Lyon, Ecole Centrale de Lyon, in 1978.

Professor Martin was a full professor from 1988 to 2008 at Université de Lyon, Ecole Centrale de Lyon, and was Head of the Materials Science Department from 1992 to 2002. He is now an Emeritus Professor at Ecole Centrale de Lyon. His entire career has been entirely devoted to the study of Tribology in the Laboratoire de Tribologie et de Dynamique des Systèmes, (UMR CNRS 5513).

Professor Martin has more than 45 years of extensive experience in fundamental and applied research in the tribology of thin films, gas phase lubrication, DLC coatings, boundary lubrication, anti-wear and extreme pressure additives, friction modifiers, surface chemical analysis and the development of tribological computer simulations.

Professor Martin’s scientific activities and tribological expertise has focused on the interaction of lubricants and surfaces, especially tribochemical effects due to additives, such as the anti-wear mechanisms of zinc dithiophosphate ZDDP), suppression of abrasive wear in steel contacts due to ZDDP, multi-additive systems and synergistic effects between different additives. He elucidated the friction modifying mechanisms due to special additives (e.g. molybdenum dithiocarbamate) and discovered superlubricity of MoS2 (molybdenum disulfide) in ultrahigh vacuum. His work on ‘liquid superlubricity’ of hydrogen-free DLC coatings led in 2012 to its widespread use in industrial applications and, since then, Professor Martin and his collaborators have licensed the technology to a number of industrial partners. This technology has since matured and has been applied to various engine parts numbering several hundred million pieces on the Asian market, including piston rings, piston pins and valve lifters.

Following new technological approaches, Professor Martin then studied nanoparticles as lubricant additives, such Bucky balls, nanotubes, carbon onions, and fullerenes. As a result of these investigations he optimized mechanisms of action of nano-lubricants for industrial applications, especially in the field of internal combustion engines. Moreover, he has pioneered the use of computer simulations in boundary lubrication and particularly molecular dynamics coupled with quantum chemistry, which is a powerful tool for describing, simulating and elucidating many kinds of tribochemical reactions, especially in lubricated contacts essential for the reliability of mechanical components and safety.

Nowadays, computer simulations are routinely studied in papers dealing with tribochemistry. In this particular field Professor Martin has developed worldwide collaborations, especially with Japan (Tohoku University), Italy (University of Modena), Austria (AC2T), Germany (IWM & IWS Fraunhofers) and the USA (Caltech). Further, Professor Martin’s activities have enabled him to develop powerful support for industrial research and development efforts related to tribology, especially in the field of engine tribology. This can be seen from his many international collaborations with car makers, such as Ford (USA), Renault (France), Nissan and Toyota (Japan), and as well with lubricant suppliers, such as Total (France), Idemitsu and JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation (Japan). He is therefore a worthy recipient of the world’s highest honour in tribology – the 2019 Tribology Gold Medal.