Superlubricity of Graphite

Phys Rev Lett. 2004 Mar 26;92(12):126101. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.92.126101. Epub 2004 Mar 24.

Abstract

Using a home-built frictional force microscope that is able to detect forces in three dimensions with a lateral force resolution down to 15 pN, we have studied the energy dissipation between a tungsten tip sliding over a graphite surface in dry contact. By measuring atomic-scale friction as a function of the rotational angle between two contacting bodies, we show that the origin of the ultralow friction of graphite lies in the incommensurability between rotated graphite layers, an effect proposed under the name of "superlubricity" [Phys. Rev. B 41, 11 837 (1990)]].