Finnish researchers find explanation for sliding friction

May 29, 2012, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Friction is a key phenomenon in applied physics, whose origin has been studied for centuries. Until now, it has been understood that mechanical wear-resistance and fluid lubrication affect friction, but the fundamental origin of sliding friction has been unknown.

Dr. Lasse Makkonen, Principal Scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, has now presented an explanation for the origin of sliding friction between solid objects. According to his theory, the amount of friction depends on the of the materials in question.

Friction has a substantial effect on many everyday phenomena, such as . Makkonen's model is the first to enable quantitative calculation of the friction coefficient of materials.

According to Makkonen's theory, the amount of friction is related to the material's surface energy. Friction originates in nanoscale contacts, as the result of new surface formation. The theory explains the generation of frictional force and frictional heating in dry contact. It can be applied in calculating the friction coefficient of various material combinations. The model also enables the manipulation of friction by selecting certain surface materials or materials used in lubrication layers, on the basis of the surface energy between them.

Makkonen's theory on sliding was published in the journal AIP Advances of the . The research was funded by the Academy of Finland and the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation.

Explore further: Scientists examine the flow of liquid at the contact between randomly rough surfaces

More information: A thermodynamic model of sliding friction: … dbi/v2/i1/p012179_s1

Related Stories

'Heftier' atoms reduce friction at the nanoscale

November 1, 2007

A research team led by a University of Pennsylvania mechanical engineer has discovered that friction between two sliding bodies can be reduced at the molecular, or nanoscale, level by changing the mass of the atoms at the ...

Shaking Reduces Friction

July 8, 2005

Lateral vibrations can control friction at the nanoscale, researchers reported in the 1 July 2005 issue of Physical Review Letters.

Recommended for you

Scientists create diodes made of light

March 16, 2018

Photonics researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have achieved the extra-ordinary by creating a diode consisting of light that can be used, for the first time, in miniaturised photonic circuits, as published ...

Quantum speed limits are not actually quantum

March 15, 2018

Quantum mechanics has fundamental speed limits—upper bounds on the rate at which quantum systems can evolve. However, two groups working independently have published papers showing for the first time that quantum speed ...

The view from inside supersonic combustion

March 15, 2018

In a jet engine, the flow of air is slowed down to increase the temperature and pressure for combustion—burning fuel with the right ratio of fuel and air to conquer drag allows for acceleration.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.