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is a branch of tribology
Tribology is the science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion. It includes the study and application of the principles of friction, lubrication and wear...
which studies friction
Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and/or material elements sliding against each other. There are several types of friction:...
phenomenon at the nanometer scale (see nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...
Nanomechanics is a branch of nanoscience studying fundamental mechanical properties of physical systems at the nanometer scale. Nanomechanics has emerged on the crossroads of classical mechanics, solid-state physics, statistical mechanics, materials science, and quantum chemistry...
). The distinction between nanotribology and tribology is primarily due to the involvement of atomic forces in the determination of the final behavior of the system.
Gears, bearings, and liquid lubricants can reduce friction in the macroscopic world, but the origins of friction for small devices such as micro- or nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS
NEMS may refer to;* Nanoelectromechanical systems* National Energy Modeling System* Nems * NEMS Enterprises , based in Argentina...
) require other solutions. Despite the unprecedented accuracy by which these devices are nowadays designed and fabricated, their enormous surface-volume ratio leads to severe friction and wear issues, which dramatically reduce their applicability and lifetime. Traditional liquid lubricants become too viscous when confined in layers of molecular thickness. This situation has led to a number of proposals for ways to reduce friction on the nanoscale, such as superlubricity
Superlubricity is a regime of motion in which friction vanishes or very nearly vanishes.Superlubricity may occur when two crystalline surfaces slide over each other in dry incommensurate contact...
Atomic-Scale Control of Friction by Actuation of Nanometer-Sized Contacts