Chemical engineering seminar to look at mechanisms of friction

Published: Mar 23, 2009 3:24:00 PM
Media Contact: Sally Credille,, 334.844.3447

Erin Flater, associate professor of physics at Luther College, will present "Discovering Fundamental Mechanisms of Friction through Studies of Molecularly-Thin Organic Coatings" on Wednesday, March 25, at 3:30 p.m. in 136 Ross Hall. Her lecture is hosted by Auburn University's Department of Chemical Engineering.

Friction is a common yet complex phenomenon. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) serves as a versatile tool for studying frictional properties. Collaboration between Flater and faculty members at St. Olaf College and Auburn University is underway to investigate and compare frictional measurements. This collaboration will focus on the velocity dependence of friction of organic monolayers.

In 2006, Flater received her doctorate in engineering mechanics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2007, she was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to acquire an atomic force microscope for her tribology lab. The NSF-funded microscope, along with a second NSF grant funding the collaboration between researchers at Luther College, St. Olaf College and Auburn University, will compare nanoscale friction measurements recorded by two types of instruments at different sliding regimes. Flater also teaches a variety of physics and general science courses, including classical mechanics, mechanics of materials and the physics of sound and musical acoustics.