Understanding friction at the nano scale

Friction between solid surfaces is an important phenomenon in everyday life. Without it, even something as simple as holding a piece of paper would be impossible. While humans have had to deal with friction since prehistoric times, we actually understand little about the process on nanometer scales that give rise to it. In this colloquium, I will attempt to give an overview of the type of research that is done in the field of fundamental nantrobilogy, i.e. the fundamental study of friction on small scales, using examples from my own and other people’s work.