Researchers align atomic friction experiment

University Of California - Merced

Working together to study friction on the atomic scale, researchers at UC Merced and the University of Pennsylvania have conducted the first atomic-scale experiments and simulations of friction at overlapping speeds. To get around this problem, friction researchers often use the tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM), an ultra-sensitive instrument capable of measuring nanonewton forces, as one point of contact. Because an AFM tip works much like a record needle, researchers can measure the friction the tip experiences while it is dragged over a surface. Martini and Ye found a way to slow down their model tips, while the Penn researchers sped up their real ones. They go to Penn for a few weeks each year and work directly with their partner researchers, which helps them prepare for life after grad school.

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