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May/June 2009
InFocus

Micro-Nanotribology

A Monograph Bridges Studies and Applications

A work designed to appeal to audiences with different levels of understanding of micro-nanotribology, a new ASTM International monograph offers information suited to both those working in the field as well as those less familiar with it.

Researchers, engineers and graduate students already involved in nanotechnology can gain useful knowledge in Physics and Chemistry of Micro-Nanotribology, and “ordinary readers can get a general but interesting picture about a scientific branch known as micro-nanotribology,” says manual coauthor Professor Yuanzhong Hu, State Key Laboratory of Tribology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

In the book, which was sponsored by Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants, Professor Jianbin Luo, SKLT director, Tsinghua University, along with colleagues at that institution, present individual contributions to the development of microscopic tribology with a focus on bridging fundamental studies with applications.

Micro-nanotribology is a branch of tribology that has developed rapidly in recent decades and deals with the surface/interface phenomena occurring on a nanometer scale as with lubrication with nanometer-thick films, friction and energy dissipation at atomic scale, microscopic wear, and protective surface layers prepared using nanomaterials. Similar to traditional tribology, which includes such areas as theory of lubrication, friction principles, wear mechanisms and surface protection technologies, micro-nanotribology integrates many disciplines under its umbrella.

Chapters 11 and 12 of the work, for example, describe how micro-nanotribology applies in electronics. Chapter 11 concerns a magnetic recording system or computer hard disk driver and Chapter 12 describes how nanotribology can be used to solve problems in chemical-mechanical polishing, a key technique in manufacturing integrated circuit chips or other electronic devices.

Other chapters cover such topics as measuring techniques, thin film lubrication (both experimental study and theoretical modeling), molecule films and boundary lubrication, mixed lubrication at the nano-scale, friction and adhesion, and microscale friction and wear.

Micro-nanotribology provides more effective ways, based on new lubricant additives and ultra-thin surface coatings, to protect machine component surfaces; it also promises new technical means to control the surface/interface behavior during nanomanufacturing. Few microscopic systems, according to the authors, can operate successfully like traditional machines simply due to a lack of proper means of lubrication for the silicon-based materials.

Resolving the surface-interface behavior issue would result in removing a challenging obstacle to progress in nanotechnology. Hu says, “To push nanotechnology forward, one has to solve the problems related to the surface/interface, which is one of the objectives of micro-nanotribology.