October 21, 2004

SIUC to host expert on nanotribology

by K.C. Jaehnig

Inaugural J.W. Chen lecture

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An internationally respected expert on nanotribology (the study of friction, lubrication and wear of microscopic structures and systems) will deliver Southern Illinois University Carbondale's first J.W. Chen lecture at 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, in Room 111 of the Engineering Building's A wing. A public reception in the lounge just outside the lecture hall will follow the free talk.

Bharat Bhushan, an Ohio Eminent Scholar and director of The Ohio State University's Nanotribology Laboratory for Information Storage, will talk about nanotribology and nanomechanics as they apply to micro- and nano-electromechanical systems both commercial and biological.

Bhusan was the first to demonstrate a way to measure friction between molecule-sized parts of these incredibly small systems, which power such devices as airbag triggers and the digital micromirror arrays used in high-definition TV. He also discovered a way to lubricate these parts in order to reduce friction and wear.

"He is one of the top-notch researchers in the world in this area," said Young W. Kwon, chair of SIUC's Department of Mechanical Engineering & Energy Processes.

"Our department and the college have a strong program in friction studies, so we believe by having him here we can learn from each other."

With support from Juh Wah Chen, founding chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Energy Processes and dean of the college from 1989 to 1998, the department plans to host such lectures by stellar scientists on an annual basis.

"He is arranging things with the (SIU) Foundation, and when it is all in place, it will be self-renewing," Kwon said.

Faculty members hope the lecture series will serve as a student recruitment tool by alerting those now in community colleges that the department has a strong program. They'd also like to send that message to engineers at other universities.

"We would like to exchange ideas and information and introduce them to what we are doing here at SIUC," Kwon said. "To improve our reputation, we need to promote our program aggressively to those outside."

Leading in research, creative and scholarly activities is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence ThroughCommitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.