MicroTribology Centrum μTC - a cooperation between the Fraunhofer IWM and the Karlsruher Institute for Technology KIT IAM

Drastic increases in emissions reductions, energy savings, and resource conservation have put tribology at the focus of industry and society. Sustainability is an economic factor in many industrial sectors, and that includes research and development in the area of friction and wear.

The MicroTribology Centrum μTC conducts friction and wear research. It optimizes tribological systems and develops solutions for friction reduction and wear protection through technical ceramics, new types of lubricants, tribological coating systems, and tribological materials which are adapted for manufacturing. For this purpose we examine friction, abrasion, break-in and wear mechanisms and the tribochemistry of machine elements such as rolling and sliding bearings, cutting and forming tools, as well as motor and gear elements on the micro and nanoscale.    


The MicroTribology Centrum μTC is a joint initiative of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM and the Institute for Applied Materials - Reliability and Microstructure (IAM-ZM) of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). It combines the tribological activities of both institutes.

Strenghts of the MicroTribology Centrum μTC

The MicroTribology Centrum μTC is characterized by the combination of industry-related research and basic science and teaching competencies. Our clientele benefit from this combination through tailor-made projects, a broad range of services and the in-depth handling of basic research tasks. 

Other special features are:

  • the combination of basic research at KIT, as well as application-oriented research and development at the Fraunhofer IWM
  • a critical mass of employees who are committed to the topic of friction and wear and make it possible to offer solutions from material development to component use
  • a business model oriented to industry requirements, with a circle of industry advisors and doctoral theses that are jointly defined and funded by the MicroTribology Centrum and the industry
  • scientific excellence with courses offered at the university, with three Emmy Noether groups, which have been funded in recent years by the German Research Foundation (DFG) at the MicroTribology Centrum, and a DFG-funded Heisenberg Professorship

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Tribology is the science and technology of interacting surfaces in relative motion. It covers the entire field of friction and wear, including lubrication, and encompasses corresponding surface interactions between both solids and solids and liquids.

The challenge and opportunity in tribology is to combine the disciplines of mechanics, physics, and chemistry to understand and describe the mechanisms that operate at atomic, microscopic and macroscopic scales. The MicroTribology Centrum μTC expertise includes:

  • Quantum chemistry: Clarification of chemical reactions between lubricant, additives, oxygen and surfaces
  • Molecular dynamics: Simulations of the lubricants’ actions
  • (Microscopic) Mesodynamics: Investigation of the influence of surface micro- and nanostructures with regard to their friction behavior
  • Macroscopic contact mechanics: For lifetime and wear predictions regarding layers and components

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