Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

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 ")

Climate Engineering In California Could Make Europe's Heat Waves Worse
'Pina2bo would have to operate full blast for many years to put as much SO2 into the stratosphere as its namesake had done in a few minutes.' - Neal Stephenson, 2021.

Textiles That Harvest Energy And Store It
'The clothes and jewelery drew their tiny power requirements from her movements.' - Alastair Reynolds, 2005.

Coin-Sized Nuclear Battery Good For 100 Years
'...power pack the size of a pea.' - Alfred Bester, 1956.

The FLUTE Project - A Huge Liquid Mirror In Space
'It's area, and its consequent light-gathering capacity, was many times greater than any rigid mirror...' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1934.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Shanghai Guidelines For Humanoid Robots
'Now, look, let's start with the three fundamental Rules of Robotics...'

Desktop TARS Robot From Interstellar
What's YOUR sarcasm setting?

Robots Can Now Have Smiling Faces With Human Skin
'I am a cybernetic organism...'

Virtual Rat Predicts Actual Rat Neural Activity
'..the synthetic intellects at the Place of Knowledge had far outstripped the minds of men.'

GoSun EV Solar Charger Drapes Onto Your Car
'...six square yards of sunpower screens.'

Rizon 4 Ironing Robot
'But after washing and drying clothes had to be smooth - free from fine lines and wrinkles ...'

Cognify - A Prison Of The Mind We've Seen Before In SF
'So I serve a hundred years in one day...'

Robot With Human Brain Organoid - 'A Thrilling Story Of Mechanistic Progress'
'A human brain snugly encased in a transparent skull-shaped receptacle.'

Goodness Gracious Me! Google Tries Face Recognition Security
'The actuating mechanism that should have operated by the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell...'

With Mycotecture, We'll Just Grow The Space Habitats We Need
'The only real cost was in the plastic balloon that guided the growth of the coral and enclosed the coral's special air-borne food.'

Can A Swarm Of Deadly Drones Take Out An Aircraft Carrier?
'The border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'

WiFi and AI Team Up To See Through Walls
'The pitiless M rays pierced Earth and steel and densest concrete as if they were so much transparent glass...'

Climate Engineering In California Could Make Europe's Heat Waves Worse
'Pina2bo would have to operate full blast for many years to put as much SO2 into the stratosphere as its namesake had done in a few minutes.'

Optimus Robot Will Be A Good Nanny, Says Musk
'Nanny is different,' Tom Fields murmured... 'she's not like a machine. She's like a person.'

ESA To Build Moon Bases Brick By Printed LEGO Brick
'We made a crude , small cell and were delighted - and, I admit, somewhat surprised - to find it worked.'

Does The Shortage Of Human Inputs Limit AI Development?
'...we've promised him a generous pension from the royalties.'

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.