Tribology and MEMS

J. A. Williams, H. R. Le

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    156 Citations (Scopus)


    Micro-electro-mechanical system, MEMS, is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary technology dealing with the design and manufacture of miniaturized machines with the major dimensions at the scale of tens, to perhaps hundreds, of micrometres. Because they depend on the cube of a representative dimension, component masses and inertias rapidly become small as size decreases whereas surface and tribological effects, which often depend on area, become increasingly important. Although our explanations of macroscopic tribological phenomena often involve individual events occurring at the micro-scale, when the overall component size is itself miniaturized it may be necessary to re-evaluate some conventional tribological solutions. While the absolute loads are small in such micro-devices, the tribological requirements, especially in terms of longevity—which may be limited by wear rather than friction—are particularly demanding and will require imaginative and novel solutions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)R201-R214
    JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


    • Micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS)
    • MEMS
    • Tribology and mechanical contacts
    • Electronics and devices
    • Condensed matter: structural, mechanical and thermal
    • Nanoscale science and low-D systems


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