Applied Mechanics department
mEcanoChemistry and TribOlogy

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mECanochemistry and TribOlogy


The activity of the ECTO group is focused on the mechanics of surfaces, at the articulation between their physical chemistry on one hand and the behavior of materials and structures in their volume on the other hand. This approach focused on surfaces is the key :

  • For the mechanics of small objects: The surface-to-volume ratio of elements resulting from microfabrication is such that surface effects become significant and influence the mechanical behavior of the volume. Studying the mechanical behavior of these micrometric objects therefore requires two major challenges:
    • Characterize the behavior of materials at the micrometer scale and quantify the influence of the environment;
    • To understand and exploit the mechanical-environmental couplings of interest.
  • For tribological studies: The challenge of tribology is indeed that a complete understanding of the processes governing the behavior (friction and wear) and the life of contacts, to ultimately predict them and provide solutions, requires understanding the synergy between mechanics, physical chemistry and thermodynamics within the contact.

ECTO gathers key competences for the understanding of surface/volume and mechanical/chemical interactions across scales (from sub-micrometer to full system).

Goals and Research Areas

The objectives lie at the interface between applications and more theoretical issues :

  • To develop innovative measurement methods on which the construction of description models dedicated to chemical/mechanical couplings in the context of static and dynamic solicitations, with or without friction, is based;
  • To propose a framework for the description of surface chemical-mechanical couplings that allows to exploit scaling effects in solid mechanics for innovative applications;
  • To bring innovative solutions allowing a control of the friction in accordance with the current environmental and societal concerns (e.g. energy control, low environmental impact, taking the human being into account).

Several topics are developed:

  • Elasticity and surface couplings whose importance is commensurate with the surface/volume ratio of the structures concerned. The objective is to understand the link between the elasticity of the volume and the surface effects of the materials considered.
  • Multi-environment tribology and tribochemistry: it aims to understand the effect of the ambient environment on the tribological behavior of materials, but also the effect of a sliding/rolling contact on its environment.
  • Tribology of manufacturing processes such as wood welding by friction, and the tribology of shaping.
  • The study of tactile perception in order to better understand the sense of touch, to promote the development of tactile stimulators, to define rules for the sensory design of objects.


The development of this activity relies on the skills of the group members  in mechanics of materials, tribology, identification, field measurements, microfabrication, and mechanical and physicochemical characterization, possibly in a controlled environment.

Our skills and know-how allow the development of original and evolving characterization methods that can be adapted to small and large scale problems. The experimental studies and the development of software for analytical calculation and mechanical analysis of surfaces and interfaces adopt multiphysical and multidisciplinary approaches.

Implementing our work

Thanks to its know-how and its network, ECTO has been able to establish a series of regional, national and international academic and industrial collaborations.

ECTO is involved in different CNRS Research Groups, and has obtained important funding from regional and national agencies and institutions (ANR, ISITE-BFC, EUR-Eiphi...), EPICs (CNES), and numerous industrial research contracts.

Non-exhaustive list of our academic partners: UTINAM Institute (Besançon), LaMCoS and LTDS laboratories (Lyon), La Sapienza University (Rome, Italy), University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada), Rice University (Houston, USA), ITODYS Laboratory (Paris), ISCR (Rennes), PMMH (Paris) SIMM (Paris), SIMAP Laboratory (Grenoble), LNC (Marseille), LEAD (Dijon), LGF (Saint-Etienne), LPMT (Mulhouse), University of Sfax (Tunisia), University of Uppsala (Sweden), HEPIA (Geneva, Switzerland), Tokyo Denki University (Tokyo, Japan)

Non-exhaustive list of our industrial partners: AFULudine (Dole), Vulkam (Grenoble), Scoder (Pirey), Airbus (Toulouse), CNES (Toulouse), APERAM (Isbergues), Sophysa (Besançon), INTEVA (Le Mans), Schneider Electric (Grenoble), BARON, DDLG ...

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