Polymer Engineering Faculty Research

Friction and energy dissipation mechanisms in adsorbed molecules and molecularly thin films

Younjin Min, The University of Akron


This review provides an overview of recent advances that have been achieved in understanding the basic physics of friction and energy dissipation in molecularly thin adsorbed films and the associated impact on friction at microscopic and macroscopic length scales. Topics covered include a historical overview of the fundamental understanding of macroscopic friction, theoretical treatments of phononic and electronic energy dissipation mechanisms in thin films, and current experimental methods capable of probing such phenomena. Measurements performed on adsorbates sliding in unconfined geometries with the quartz crystal microbalance technique receive particular attention. The final sections review the experimental literature of how measurements of sliding friction in thin films reveal energy dissipation mechanisms and how the results can be linked to film-spreading behavior, lubrication, film phase transitions, superconductivity-dependent friction, and microelectromechanical systems applications. Materials systems reported on include adsorbed films comprised of helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, water, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, ethane, ethanol, trifluoroethanol, methanol, cyclohexane, ethylene, pentanol, toluene, tricresylphosphate, t-butylphenyl phosphate, benzene, and iodobenzene. Substrates reported on include silver, gold, aluminum, copper, nickel, lead, silicon, graphite, graphene, fullerenes, C60, diamond, carbon, diamond-like carbon, and YBa2Cu3O7, and self-assembled monolayers consisting of tethered polymeric molecules.