Tribology is the science and technology of interacting surfaces in relative motion and of their related subjects and practices. The nature and consequences of the interactions that take place at the moving interface control its friction, wear and lubrication behaviour. Understanding the nature of these interactions and solving the technological problems associated with the interfacial phenomena constitute the essence of tribology. The importance of friction and wear control cannot be over emphasized for economic reasons and long-term reliability.
The recent emergence and proliferation of proximal probes, in particular tip-based microscopies and the surface force apparatus and computational techniques for simulating tip–surface interactions and interfacial properties, have allowed systematic investigations of interfacial problems with high resolution as well as ways and means for modifying and manipulating nanostructures. These advances provide the impetus for research aimed at developing a fundamental understanding of the nature and consequences of the interactions between materials on the atomic scale, and they guide the rational design of material for technological applications. In short, they have led to the appearance of the new field of micro/nanotribology.
There are also new applications that require detailed understanding of the tribological processes on macro- to nanoscales. Since the early 1980s, tribology of magnetic storage systems has become one of the important parts of tribology. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)/nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS), bioMEMS/bioNEMS, RF-MEMS/RF-NEMS, MOEMS/NOEMS have appeared in the marketplace which present new tribological challenges. Along with the new industrial applications, there has been development of new materials, coatings and treatments as well as nanostructured materials.
It is clear that the general field of tribology has grown rapidly in the last 20 years. Conventional tribology is well established but nanotribology is evolving and is beginning to take the centre stage for the next decade. New materials are finding use. Furthermore, new industrial applications continue to evolve with their unique challenges. Mechanical properties are scale dependent and many properties are unique on the nanoscale, which can be exploited. This has led to the interest in nanomechanics.
Nanotribology and nanomechanics are critical technologies for many micro/nano devices and systems and nanostructured materials. The purpose of the two theme issues is to present the fundamentals of nanotribology and nanomechanics in the first issue and applications to nanotechnology in the second issue. The appeal of the theme issue is expected to be broad.
- © 2007 The Royal Society