Applied Mechanics department
Applied Mechanics Department
Materials, surfaces, processes & structures

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Tribology, Functionalization and Characterization of Surfaces


The Tribology, Functionalization & Characterization of Surfaces (TFCS) team aims to develop a tribological approach close to humans and the environment in order to provide innovative solutions to today's societal and industrial challenges: energy management (reduction of wear and friction to increase the service life of systems), low and controlled environmental impact (development of green lubricants, optimization of materials and geometries of rubbing contacts to maximize their performance), taking into account humans and their interrelationship with their environment.

OBJECTIVES and Research Areas

The TFCS team aims to better understand the interfacial phenomena during a situation of sliding and/or rolling contact between two solids. The main objective is to provide new innovative solutions to real problems, allowing friction control in accordance with current environmental and societal issues. Several research topics are thus developed:

  • Friction wood welding: it aims to understand and develop the assembly of elements from wood by eliminating the use of glues ;
  • Tactile perception: its study aims to better understand the sense of touch, promote the development of tactile stimulators, define rules for the sensory design of objects, detect and re-educate tactile deficiency;
  • Multi-environment tribology and tribochemistry: it aims at understanding the effect of the ambient environment on the tribological behaviour of materials (metals, thin layers, composites) but also the effect of a sliding contact on its environment (release of particles and gases by tribological stress) ;
  • Surface functionalization: it is mostly focused on 2 approaches: Self-assembled molecular layers: grafting of organic molecules onto surfaces, creation of an ecological non-oily lubricant (patented and commercialized) and texturing of surfaces by femto-second laser. It is applied in various fields ranging from the shaping of metallic materials to the replacement of phosphating or sports performance ;
  • Optimization of contacts (choice of materials, geometry) for lubricant-free operation.


The activities are based on 4 main pillars:

  • Development of original and evolutionary test rigs that can be adapted to the problems encountered,
  •  Development of analytical calculation software,
  •  Multiphysical and multidisciplinary approaches,
  • Balance between applied and fundamental research stimulating a strong link with industry without compromising upstream research for future applications

Implementing our work

Thanks to its know-how and network, TFCS has been able to sustainably establish a set of regional, national, and international academic and industrial collaborations. These collaborations are mainly established in the fields of mechanics, tribology and materials science, but also open up to neuroscience, psychophysics and sensory design, in a multidisciplinary context...

TFCS is involved in the CNRS GDR n°2033 TACT (le Toucher : Analyse, Connaissance et simulation) and GDR n°3544 Sciences du bois.

TFCS has been able to obtain significant funding from regional and national agencies and institutions (ANR, ISITE-BFC, EUR-Eiphi...) and numerous CIFRE contracts with the industry. There is a strong desire to valorize research, notably through the filing of patents and the creation of companies (e.g. patent "Surface treatment of metal substrates" and the creation of AFULudine).

Academic partners:  Institut UTINAM (Besançon), LaMCoS and LTDS laboratories (Lyon), La Sapienza University (Rome, Italy), University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada), Rice University (Houston, USA), SIMAP laboratory (Grenoble), LNC (Marseille), LEAD (Dijon), LGF (Saint-Etienne), LPMT (Mulhouse), University of Sfax (Tunisia), Uppsala University (Sweden), HEPIA (Geneva, Switzerland), Tokyo Denki University (Tokyo, Japan)

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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