Prof. Urbakh Michael
My research effort in the past few years has focused on a molecular level description of processes occurring between and close to interacting surfaces which is needed to first understand, and later manipulate friction. Friction is present in a great number of physical systems and plays a central part in phenomena that take place at all length scales, from micro- and nanomachines or biological molecular motors to the geophysical scales characteristic for earthquakes. Despite the practical and fundamental importance of friction and the growing efforts in the field, many key aspects of dynamics of this phenomenon are still not well understood. The main challenge is posed by the complexity of highly non-equilibrium processes occurring in any tribological scenario that includes detachment and re-attachment of multiple microscopic contacts between the surfaces in relative motion. The most challenging directions of future research include: bridging the gap between the nano, micro and macro scales in friction, new approaches to control and modify frictional properties and nanomanipulations at interfaces.