MIT Tunes Ions For Frictionless Surface - Superlubricity!

MIT scientists have developed an experimental technique to simulate friction at the nanoscale. In particular, they can cause superlubricity - a phenomenon in which friction goes to zero, allowing surfaces to slide without resistance.


(MIT method for frictionless surface study)

Using their technique, the researchers are able to directly observe individual atoms at the interface of two surfaces and manipulate their arrangement, tuning the amount of friction between the surfaces. By changing the spacing of atoms on one surface, they observed a point at which friction disappears.

The team simulated friction at the nanoscale by first engineering two surfaces to be placed in contact: an optical lattice, and an ion crystal. The optical lattice was generated using two laser beams traveling in opposite directions, whose fields add up to form a sinusoidal periodic pattern in one dimension. This so-called optical lattice is similar to an egg carton..

Vuletic then engineered a second surface: an ion crystal — essentially, a grid of charged atoms — in order to study friction’s effects, atom by atom. To generate the ion crystal, the group used light to ionize, or charge, neutral ytterbium atoms emerging from a small heated oven, and then cooled them down with more laser light to just above absolute zero. The charged atoms can then be trapped using voltages applied to nearby metallic surfaces...

The team then used the same forces that are used to trap the atoms to push and pull the ion crystal across the lattice, as well as to stretch and squeeze the ion crystal, much like an accordion, altering the spacing between its atoms.

In his wry 1940 short story The Exalted, science fiction author L. Sprague de Camp describes a remarkable ray which can neutralize friction:

...something happened to the front steps under him. They became slicker than the smoothest ice...

Every time he applied a horizontal component of force to a hand or knee, the hand or knee simply slid backward.

"...My telelubricator here neutralizes the interatomic bonds the surface of any solid on which the beam falls. So the surface, to the depth of a few molecules, is put in the condition of a supercooled liquid as long as the beam is focused on it. Since the liquid form of any compound will wet the solid form, you have perfect lubrication."
(Read more about de Camp's telelubricator)

Via Vanishing friction: In tuning friction to the point where it disappears, technique could boost development of nanomachines. (MIT press release).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/21/2017)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.

Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.' - Larry Niven, 1970.

Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...' - Paul Di Filippo, 1985

Super-Resolution Microscopy Provides '4D' Views
View the magnified interior of living cells.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'

Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."

Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'

Ancient Russian Walking Excavator Would Be Perfect RV
I don't need it to go fast, it just needs to amble along.

ELROI Satellite 'License Plate'
Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.

When Robots Beg For Their Lives
"Just what do you think you're doing... Dave.'

Do You Still Want A Folding Screen Phone?
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled...'

'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Now A Thing, Say Plastic Surgeons
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.'

Quiet Electric Cars Law Finalized By US Transportation Department
'... a sound tape to supply the noise'

Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...'

Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.

Bezos Invites You To New Life In Off-World Colonies
'A new life awaits you!'

Amazon's Rekognition System Sees Criminals In Congress
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'

Build Your Own Space Suit For Cheap
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.