Feeds

German boffins plan frictionless liquid crystal lubricant

'Sliding rod' slips in easily with right orientation

Build a business case: developing custom apps

German boffins at the Fraunhofer Institute say they are working on an "almost frictionless" lubricant made from liquid crystals like those used in flat-panel displays. They think that the LCD lube could be ready for market as soon as 2011.

As any fule kno, liquid crystal molecules can be made to point the same way under the correct stimulus.

"You might compare them to matches with their heads all pointing in the same direction," says Doktor Andreas Kailer of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM.

It seems that if two surfaces sliding over one another are pressed together, frictional forces can drop almost to zero if liquid crystals are used to lubricate them. In a joint project with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam and the Mainz company Nematel, Kailer's IWM researchers are investigating which liquid crystals are most suitable for use as lubricants, and under what conditions.

Normal crystals as used in LCDs are high-purity and quite expensive, but the German grease-boffins think that lower-purity, cheaper stuff could be used in their applications.

According to the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft:

The testing unit exerts a certain amount of force on a metal cylinder that is moved back and forth.

Kailer adds:

"In contrast to normal liquids ... liquid crystals have a certain orientation ... [they] have not been suitable as a lubricant for ball bearings until now.

"For slide bearings, on the other hand, liquid crystals are the perfect solution. We hope to be able to market a liquid crystal lubricant in three to five years' time." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.