COLUMBUS, Ohio - Motor oil keeps car engines running smoothly, but what will grease tiny motors for the high-tech microdevices of the future? Ohio State University researchers may have the answer.
Until now, scientists couldn't accurately measure the friction that plagues miniature motors, pumps, and gears -- mechanisms that could one day move inside microscopic medical implants in the body, for example. Such devices -- microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) -- contain parts so small they are measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter. Without knowing the friction present in these devices, scientists can't design the right micro-lubricants.
Led by Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Howard D. Winbigler Professor of mechanical engineering at Ohio State, researchers here have pioneered the first direct method for measuring the friction of these tiny parts as they rub together -- with results twice as accurate as any previous indirect method could provide.
They also found a way to bake lubricant onto the surface of microdevices at temperatures as high as 150C to oil the tiny moving parts.