PHILADELPHIA –- A team of nanotechnology researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University has used friction force microscopy to determine the nanoscale frictional characteristics of four atomically-thin materials, discovering a universal characteristic for these very different materials. Friction across these thin sheets increases as the number of atomic layers decreases, all the way down to one layer of atoms. This friction increase was surprising as there previously was no theory to predict this behavior.
The finding reveals a significant principle for these materials, which are widely used as solid lubricant films in critical engineering applications and are leading contenders for future nanoscale electronics.
"Nanotechnology examines how materials behave differently as they shrink to the nanometer scale," Hone said. "On a fundamental level, it is exciting to find yet another property that fundamentally changes as a material gets smaller."
The results may also have practical implications for the design of nanomechanical devices that use graphene, which is one of the strongest materials known. It may also help researchers understand the macroscopic behavior of graphite, MoS2 and BN, which are used as common lubricants to reduce friction and wear in machines and devices. ###
The study, published in the current edition of the journal Science, was conducted collaboratively by Carpick and Qunyang Li of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science; Hone, Changgu Lee and William Kalb of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia; Xin-Zhou Liu of Leiden University in the Netherlands; and Helmuth Berger of Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.
Research was funded by the National Science Foundation through Penn's Laboratory for Research into the Structure of Matter, Columbia's Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center, the NSF's Directorate for Engineering, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research.
Contact: Jordan Reese firstname.lastname@example.org 215-573-6604 University of Pennsylvania