Tribology for the microscopic world.


Tribology deals with friction and wear in the macroscopic world. On the other hand, when the dimensions of components such as those in micromachines become extremely small, surface force and viscous force become dominant instead of gravity and inertial force. According to Coulomb's law of friction, frictional force is proportional to the normal load. In the micromachine environment, because of the reaction between surface forces, a large frictional force occurs that would be inconceivable in an ordinary scale environment. Also a very small quantity of abrasion that would not be a problem in an ordinary scale environment can fatally damage a micromachine. Microtribology research seeks to reduce frictional forces and to discover conditions that are free of friction, even on an atomic level. In this research, observation is made of phenomena that occur with friction surfaces or solid surfaces at from angstrom to nanometer resolution, and analysis of interaction on an atomic level is performed. These approaches are expected to be applied in solving problems in tribology for the ordinary scale environment as well as for the micromachine environment.


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