SURFACES AND SMALL-SCALE STRUCTURES
The focus of our research is to reveal the
physical processes governing the mechanics of surfaces and interfaces.
Contacting surfaces are of critical importance in
advanced applications, including advanced manufacturing schemes,
micro-/nano-electromechanical systems, and scanning probe microscopy
applications. The function of such applications depends on the ability to
precisely predict and control contact parameters such as contact area, contact
stiffness, adhesion, and electrical and thermal transport.
Our group uses novel combinations of in situ electron microscopy, multi-scale mechanical testing,
and scanning probe
microscopy to interrogate the mechanics, tribology, and functional properties
of contacts. On the small scale, we can achieve Angstrom-scale spatial
resolution and nanonewton force resolution, to interrogate atomic-scale
processes. On the large-scale, we use micro- and macro-scale testing of larger
contacts that contain multi-scale surface roughness. This enables us to
scale-up these nanoscale insights to describe functional properties of larger-scale surfaces.
Our goal is to develop quantitative, fundamental, and
predictive understanding of contact behavior, which will enable tailored
surface properties for advanced technologies.