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Contact Mechanics


Contact Mechanics is a fundamental discipline of the engineering sciences. Every system - technical device or living being - is composed of connected parts, which makes Contact Mechanics relevant for countless physical, technical, and medical applications.

Research activities of the Department of System Dynamics and Friction Physics in the field of Contact Mechanics range from the rigorous analytical treatment of contacts to the development and application of highly advanced numerical simulation methods. more

Boundary Element Method


In recent years, the Boundary Element Method (BEM) has evolved to become the most efficient numerical technique in the field of Contact Mechanics. Through the application of the Fast Fourier Transformation (FFT), the technique has set new standards, becoming the method of choice both in academic and industrial research and development. At the Department of System Dynamics and Friction Physics, efficient implementations of the FFT-based BEM have been developed which allow to run highly advanced studies. The method is continuously improved, and it is at the foundation of several partnerships of the department with the industry, ranging from the automotive to the aerospace sector. more

Method of Dimensionality Reduction (MDR)


MDR is a new method of simulation of contact and frictional forces between elastic and viscoelastic solids. MDR is simple in application, easy to learn and does not need any special knowledge in contact mechanics. Numerical implementation of MDR is almost trivial and allows to integrate the direct simulation of frictional contacts in finite elements or multi-body programs. more



A tribologist would give a very simple answer to Goethe's Faust's question about "what holds the world together at its core" - adhesion. The term "adhesion" is used in science to describe the forces at the interfaces between bodies. We rely on adhesion forces when we use a gluedjoint - be it a shoe sole, a car roof or a carbon-fibre airplane wing, a note on the wall or a medical plaster. Adhesion is one of the central topics of current research at the department of System Dynamics and Friction Physics.... more

Elastomer Friction


Rubber and other elastomers are highly deformable and thus conform well to surfaces, exhibit high coefficients of friction in many material pairings (rubber-rubber, rubber-asphalt, etc.), and are water and heat resistant. As a result, elastomers see widespread use in tires, belts, cables, adhesive layers, and many other areas of application. more

History of Contact Mechanics and the Physics of Friction


No future without history! more

Collisions and Impacts


Impact problems are faced more often in technological processes and life than normally realized. They occur not only between "not-connected parts of a system" (as e.g. between particles of a granular medium), but also in "connected systems" (as e.g. a human joint by jumping or when stumbling over bumps). Impacts thus can be considered as a necessary, generic process in most physical, technological or biological systems. more

Earthquakes dynamics and prediction


Tectonic plate dynamics can also be seen as a part of tribology. The Earth’s crust is composed of tectonic plates which slowly move relative to one another due to convection in the mantel. On a time scale of millions of years, these movements determine the structure of the Earth’s surface. On a small time scale, they are responsible for earthquakes. In our department, we investigate theoretically and experimentally the predictability of artificial "earthquakes" in simplified model systems. more



Frictional contacts often involve the gradual deformation or removal of the contacting surfaces.  Wear is the number one reason why machines require maintenance and has great economic relevance. A multitude of physical or chemical processes can be responsible for the removal or surface material, which is not always undesired. In manufacturing, these processes can be employed for obtain surfaces with the required surface properties, such as roughness values. more



Lubrication is used for reduction of friction and wear of contacting surfaces. The fast Boundary Element Method developed at the Department of System Dynamics and Friction Physics enables numerical study of the hydrodynamic lubrication, elastohydrodynamic lubrication and mixed lubrication with real roughness. more

Bio Contact Mechanics


The contact mechanics of natural joints like knee or hip joints is a highly interdisciplinary research area combining contact mechanics, biology and fluid mechanics. The degeneration of the cartilage layers covering the joints as well as its potential regeneration are highly dependent on the mechanical environment.

 In this young research field at the Department of System Dynamics and Friction Physics, the current work is focused on the theoretical modeling of the contact problem in natural joints and the identification of laws that govern degenerative and regenerative processes. more

Haptics and Electrovibration


Due to the growing interest in robotic and haptic applications, voltage-induced friction has rapidly grown in importance in recent years. We exploit the close analogy to classical adhesion theories and recalculate the adhesion force per unit area as well as the effective surface energy. Applications are frictional contacts between the fingertip and touchscreen under electrovibration, active control of friction in robotics and haptics. more 

Multiscale Biomechanics and Tribology of Inorganic and Organic Systems


This open access book gathers authoritative contributions concerning multiscale problems in biomechanics, geomechanics, materials science and tribology. It is written in memory of Sergey Grigorievich Psakhie to feature various aspects of his multifaceted research interests, ranging from theoretical physics, computer modeling of materials and material characterization at the atomic scale, to applications in space industry, medicine and geotectonics, and including organizational, psychological and philosophical aspects of scientific research and teaching as well.more


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