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January 4th, 2005
When you’re sitting in a chilly room and your hands feel cold, rubbing them together can be the quickest way to warm them. To engineers, this natural heat source is known as friction. And while it may be good for our bodies, it is also a mechanical nuisance that has cost the U.S. billions of dollars in lost labor, down-time and cost of replacement parts.
It’s mechanical challenges like friction that have sparked the development of a field known as tribology — a branch of engineering devoted to studies of friction, wear and lubrication. Recently, joint effort between tribologists at Argonne and materials scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Drexel University has resulted in the development of a carbon-based coating that can reduce mechanical friction by up to 75 percent. This coating, known as Nanostructured Carbide Derived Carbon (CDC), was named one of the top 100 inventions last year by R&D magazine.
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