Pitt | Swanson Engineering

Mechanics of nanoscale contacts


The behavior of nanoscale contacts determines function and reliability in many small-scale devices and technologies. The goal of this research effort is to develop a predictive understanding of what it means to be “in contact” at the nanoscale, and how the mechanical and functional properties of the contact depend on materials, geometry, surface interactions, and loading conditions.

Mechanical and functional properties of rough surfaces

Multiscale Roughness

Almost all natural and engineered surfaces have roughness across many length scales, which affects surface properties such as adhesion, electrical and thermal transport across the surfaces, and mechanical durability. The goal of this research effort is to combine multi-scale surface characterization approaches with to develop and refine quantitative mechanical models of rough surfaces.

Fundamental understanding of tribological processes


Tribology is the study of sliding surfaces: friction, adhesion, lubrication, and wear, and has broad applications from automotive to aerospace to manufacturing. In this research initiative, we seek to use in situ microscopy to uncover the fundamental atomic-scale processes that underlie the complex system-scale behavior.