Superlubricity – Making Surfaces With No Friction

By Anupum Pant

Superlubricity is a phenomenon where friction completely disappears. It happens when when two crystalline surfaces slide over each other in dry incommensurate contact. Now scientists have managed to recreate it artificially by tuning the spacing of individual atoms on a surface. Of course scaling it to macro objects is going to be next to impossible, but like every impossible thing from the past which is totally possible today, we hopefully will see it happen some time in the future.

Researchers made an optical crystal (lattice) of sort, with peaks and troughs of potential and the other surface of ionic crystal to slide over the potential. They found that when the atoms of the ionic crystal were equally spaced, same as the optical lattice the friction was maxed out. But when this spacing did not match, the atoms simply glided over the optical crystal as if there was no friction at all.

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