The snow's perfect and the biathlete's in top form. He's one of the best – he can win the race. Often there's only a few thousandths of a second between the victor and the vanquished, so the gliding ability of his skis is very important. And this depends on several factors, not least whether the wax mixture he's applied suits the particular type of snow.
Anyone looking for optimal ski performance must first understand the laws of friction. That is why wax and ski coating manufacturers are counting on the expertise of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg. The scientists have been studying the gliding ability of skis and know how to make ski athletes go like the wind.
Prof. Dr. Matthias Scherge, Head of the new Microtrobilogy Center in Karlsruhe, says: »The snow, the ski coating and the wax that is applied all unite to form a single entity. We can't alter the snow, but we can adapt both the wax and the coating to suit particular snow conditions.« The researchers use a special technique to analyze the friction and gliding effects; they simulate the contact between a single snow crystal and the coating with the aid of a test rig, and then measure the coefficient of friction in relation to temperature.
»It's the first 10 to 15 nanometers of the coating surface that determine the gliding effects,« explains Scherge. And they have another item of equipment in their armory as well: a ski tribometer. Here, a small section of ski travels in a circle over a snow-covered disc, allowing the researchers to test different combinations of waxes and coatings and ascertain the optimum combinations for specific conditions such as temperature. The ultimate test is then conducted in the ski hall, where biathletes perform glide tests on a hundred-meter test run with a defined gradient. Their times are measured with the aid of a leg-mounted transponder, which guarantees split-second accuracy; this enables the researchers to establish how many thousandths of a second can be shaved off their times by the right combination of ski coating and wax.
The researchers are working with Holmenkol and other partners to develop novel waxes and super fast coatings. Scherge says: »We've talked with athletes and also with the technicians who wax their skis prior to every competition. It's only with their knowledge and experience that we'll be able to create skis that glide perfectly.«
Matthias Scherge | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Let the good tubes roll
19.01.2018 | DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Method uses DNA, nanoparticles and lithography to make optically active structures
19.01.2018 | Northwestern University
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy