Tribology

Tribology

Graduate Student

Tribology is the science, engineering, and technology of interacting surfaces in relative motion. It evolved from the classical fields of friction, lubrication, and wear, and has been a significant research area in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech for over four decades. Our activities fall into six major areas: contact mechanics, lubricated sliding interfaces, high pressure rheology, rotordynamics, seals and biotribology.

In contact mechanics our work includes the modeling of elasto-plastic rough surfaces in sliding contact, the role of scale in surface contact, heat generation, and electrical contact resistance. Research on lubricated sliding interfaces has been directed toward studies of adhesion or stiction in small scale devices such as microeletromechanical systems (MEMS) and computer disk drives, and the lubricating behavior of soft metals. In the area of high pressure rheology our laboratory provides measurements of physical properties of liquids at high pressures which support elastohydrodynamics, fluid power, engine fuel injection, polymer processing and synthesis, petroleum recovery, and investigations of the physics of viscous flow. Our work in rotordynamics includes the dynamics and diagnostics of cracked shafts, the analysis and design of bearings at the macro and nano scales, and the mechanics of viscoelastic dampers and elastic-viscoelastic vibrating shell structures. In the area of seals, our work has been directed toward the simulation and control of mechanical seals (including reactor coolant pump seals), and the modeling of elastomeric rotary and reciprocating seals as well as static seals. In biotribology, we have been characterizing the mechanical properties of cartilage in healthy and diseased joints, and investigating the mechanisms of friction in limbless animal locomotion.

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