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Ultra-low Friction Technology Area


Ultra-low friction technology is the key for energy efficiency and security, not only in the automotive field but all areas of industry and daily life. It is indispensable towards the achievement of a low-carbon emission society. For instance, 20% of a car's total energy loss is caused by friction within the engine and transmission, thus making research of friction-reducing technology for improving fuel efficiency a vital task. Actually, fuel efficiency has been improved up to 15% in the last twenty years as a result of knowledge obtained through experimental conclusions.

In this project, researchers within the fields of mechanical engineering and materials science work together with industry engineers in order to develop technology based on advanced scientific approaches that go beyond the conventional experimental technology of friction reduction, and thus accelerate advancement in the development of new low-friction technology. We develop optimized lubrication technology based on the Nano scale of physics, chemical science research focusing on ultra-low friction through lubrication, as well as basic and theoretical explanations of friction mechanisms.

It is expected that this technology will contribute widely to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through a significant improvement in fuel efficiency.


Optimized lubrication interfaces are developed on the basis of nano-interface evaluation and novel material production for ultra-low friction. The systems studied include: Oil lubrication, which reduces friction losses in engine components such as pistons; Water lubrication, which aims to obtain energy generation from heat; and Solid lubrication, which is expected to be applied to next-generation vacuum devices. Our research creates practical low-friction materials and interface design technology through the investigation of solid-liquid interfaces, the effects of lubricants and additives, and running-in processes at nano-interfaces.

The development of friction-reducing technology is conducted by private businesses, universities and research institutes in Japan and abroad. Given the dynamic nature in which many factors converge at the interface, it is difficult to fully understand the way in which low-friction mechanisms work, so as to draw precise conclusions. However, as a result of the extensive knowledge base produced through these research efforts, it is expected that in the future we will be able to understand and explain low-friction mechanisms on the atomic level. Furthermore, with understanding these mechanisms comes the opportunity of further improving low friction mechanisms to obtain greater results.

Through this project, scientific comprehension of interface lubrication is promoted by developing, improving and fusing existing technology for evaluation and calculation of low-friction interfaces. Tohoku University allows tribology research to flourish by facilitating collaboration between researchers in various fields. Our philosophy is to develop technology for practical purposes based on scientific research.

Ultra-low Friction Technology Area


  • Photoelectron spectroscopy system for in-situ analyses of tribological surfaces
  • Surface Fine Structure Microscope
  • In-plane X-ray Diffractometer for Thin film surface