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March 27th, 2009
Coating an object with just one or two layers of carbon atoms gives it an extremely slippery yet tough surface, according to physicists in Germany and North America.
What's more, the friction on a single layer of carbon atoms - known as graphene - is greater than on a double layer, which the researchers say is due to differences in how vibrating carbon atoms interact with surrounding electrons.
The results suggest that such coatings could reduce frictional wear and tear in tiny machines.
The new findings were made by a team led by Roland Bennewitz, who splits his time between McGill University in Montreal and the Leibniz Institute for New Materials in Saarbruecken, Germany. Researchers at McGill, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and Max Planck Insititute in Berlin were also involved.
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