By Nick Gilbert
The origin of friction has been analyzed for centuries, as it forms a major phenomenon in applied physics. Fluid lubrication and mechanical wear-resistance were found to be the causes affecting friction, but the primary origin of sliding friction is still a mystery.
Recently, a Principal Scientist from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Dr. Lasse Makkonen has explained about the fundamental origin of sliding friction occurring between solid objects. Based on Makkonen's theory, friction occurs depending on the material’s surface energy.
Friction plays a significant role on day-to-day phenomena, like consumption of energy. A model developed by the scientist is the initial model that enables quantitative estimation of the friction coefficient of materials.
The surface energy of the material and the amount of friction are interrelated, according to the new theory. Formation of new surface results in the origination of friction in nanoscale contacts. Makkonen's theory explains about the creation of frictional heating and frictional force in dry contact. This theory can estimate the friction coefficient of different combinations of materials.
Makkonen's model allows friction manipulation with the selection of certain surface materials utilized in lubrication layers, based on the surface energy existing between them.
The journal AIP Advances of the American Institute of Physics published Makkonen's theory on sliding friction. The Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation and the Academy of Finland funded this research.