Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Superlubricant effect explained using new friction force sensor


Graphite had already been extensively studied. German physicist Martin Dienwiebel was therefore extremely surprised when he discovered a completely new effect in this well-known lubricant. During research into the frictional properties of the material, he discovered that the frictional force almost completely disappeared at a certain moment.

Dienwiebel only intended to test the new friction force microscope he had developed. The Tribolever is a raster microscope which can measure frictional forces of just a few picoNewtons in three spatial dimensions. With his new instrument Dienwiebel first of all studied the frictional properties of graphite.

Graphite consists of carbon atoms arranged in layers one above another. The carbon atoms in a graphite layer form a sort of undulating landscape, which is similar to an egg box. The different layers can slide over each other. However, resistance can occur during the sliding process if the hills of one layer fit exactly into the valleys of another layer. Yet if the two layers are rotated with respect to each other, there are always points within the contact surface where the hills touch each other. As a result of this the two layers cannot collapse into each other and the resistance is overcome. The researcher has termed this phenomenon superlubrication.

A spray can with graphite lubricant is full of small graphite flakes. Upon spraying, these flakes land in a totally random manner. Consequently all of the flakes are automatically rotated with respect to each other and can therefore glide over each other with the minimum of resistance. The superlubricant effect discovered by Dienwiebell could be the basis of graphite’s outstanding lubricating qualities.

Graphite is not the only material for which the physicist wants to determine the frictional properties. As the properties of most materials change upon being exposed to air (for example, due to corrosion), Dienwiebel has also designed a friction force microscope that can work in an ultrahigh vacuum. The combination of this method with other microscopic techniques such as raster electron microscopy should make it possible to carry out a complete characterisation of friction in the future.

Nalinie Moerlie | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

nachricht Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch
20.10.2016 | The Optical Society

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>