A project led by Tevis Jacobs, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, recently received over $305,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation.
The team's project will measure surface roughness of tiny particles and characterize the fundamental relationship between adhesion and roughness at small sizes. “You can see this when you grind coffee,” Jacobs said. “The whole beans don’t stick to the side of the grinder, but a fine grind will stick to everything, especially on a dry day.” Similarly, Jacobs wants to develop a model to show what circumstances, like that dry day, affect adhesion on this small scale, using microscopy and mechanical testing and scanning techniques.
The overall goal of Jacobs' research group is to develop quantitative, fundamental and predictive understanding of contact behavior at all scales, which will enable tailored properties for advanced technologies.