Superlubricity

From Academic Kids

Superlubricity is a certain phenomenon in which friction can vanish almost completely. Superlubricity occurs when two crystalline surfaces slide over each other in dry, incommensurate contact. It is an effect that has been already suggested in 1991 but has recently been measured with great accuracy between two graphite surfaces. One should note that the similarity of the term superlubricity with terms such as superconductivity and superfluidity is misleading; other energy dissipation mechanisms can lead to a finite (normally small) friction force.

The atoms in graphite are oriented in a hexagonal manner and form an atomic hill-and-valley landscape, which looks like an egg-crate. When the two graphite surfaces are in registry (every 60 degrees), the friction force is high. When the two surfaces are rotated out of registry, the friction is largely reduced. This is like two egg-crates which can slide over each other more easily when they are "twisted" with respect to each other.

External links

  • Super Lubricity of Graphite (http://www.physics.leidenuniv.nl/sections/cm/ip/group/PDF/Phys.rev.lett/2004/92(2004)12601.pdf) (research paper in PDF format)
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