Gaithersburg MD — Dec. 10, 2001 — As part of a program to develop surface protecting and lubricating films that will shield super-small machines and their even tinier components from friction and wear, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers are working on ultrathin lubricants or single-layer films.
The specialty lubricants will be needed for the minuscule nanotechnology machinery now under development. Current lubrication systems, such as the fluorocarbon compounds and carbon coatings, may not be adequate to meet the demanding performance requirements envisioned for nanotechnology applications.
Researchers are exploring the lubricating potential of a mixed-molecule, single-layer film, including combinations of up to four different molecules, each one chosen to achieve desired capabilities, from wear resistance to self-repair.
They are also developing test methods to evaluate new materials and new combinations of materials being considered as lubricants. An overview of this project be found at www.msel.nist.gov/nanotribology.pdf.
By Bill Roebuck