PerspectiveFRICTION

Slippery when dry

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Science  05 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6239, pp. 1087-1088
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3233

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Summary

Friction and wear account for massive amounts of wasted energy annually (estimates run in the hundreds of billions of dollars in the United States), in addition to unwanted and even unsafe failures of vehicles, machines, and devices (1). For example, nearly one-third of a vehicle's fuel energy is spent on overcoming engine, transmission, and tire friction (2). Engineers have devised many ways to reduce and control friction and wear, but it remains unknown whether superlubricity—the reduction of friction forces to nearly immeasurable levels—can be achieved with practical materials. On page 1118 of this issue, Berman et al. (3) describe an approach that combines the advantages of two nanomaterials with very different mechanical properties—stiff nanodiamonds and bendable graphene—to achieve apparent superlubricity on the macroscopic scale.