International Projects


Nano-Structured Lubricants for Ball-Bearing Applications in Space

The project is the second of a three-step program called ITI (Innovation Triangle Initiative) and financed by the European Space Agency.
The research field is the study of new solid lubricants suitable for aerospace applications.
The goal is to assess the tribological properties of coatings made of metal dichalcogenides (MoS2 and WS2) deposited by Supersonic Cluster Beam Deposition (SCBD).
Metal dichalcogenides are largely used as solid lubricants because of their layered structure, similar to graphite, although the lubricating properties are narrowed down by the oxidation of the layers. The nanostructured form, in particular onion-like particles, can reduce this effect; thus the potential advantage of using SCBD which, with respect to other PVD techniques, can produce films with a larger fraction of onion-like particles, randomly dispersed in the amorphous matrix.
The tribologic performance of coatings deposited with different process parameters will be tested by pin-on-disc method either in air or nitrogen. The most promising combination will be used to coat races of ball bearings typical of spacecraft mechanisms. The bearing torques and bearing lifetime will be measured in both vacuum and air environments. The expectation is that the tests of SCBD deposited WS2 and MoS2 will show friction coefficients comparable to benchmark coatings, but longer lifetimes.

Funding: European Space Agency
Coordinator: ESR Technology Ltd
Scientist in charge at CIMaINa: Claudio Piazzoni
Duration: 7 March 2009 - 6 March 2010

Nanosciences LIVE in Science Centres and Museums

The project aims to create an innovative place for the broad public to learn about and to discuss nano research by directly involving the scientists themselves. This task will be accomplished through the creation, by selected academic groups active in the nanotechnology field, of Open Laboratories within selected european scientific and technical museums. Within the project, CIMAINA centre of the Universita’ degli Studi di Milano will be partner of the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia “Leonardo da Vinci”. Taking the laboratory environment and the research work out of academic campuses and relocating them right in the midst of the public scene (the Museum), we plan to communicate to the public a closer idea of what a researcher actually does, what are the goals and the means of his research, what are the peculiarities of the research in nanotechnology.
For CIMAINA, the realization of the project consists in setting up from scratch a leading-edge research laboratory inside the museum dedicated to the characterization of nanomaterials for photoelectrochemical applications (mainly in the field of energy storage and conversion). To this purpose, suitable durable equipment will be acquired, and the laboratory will be operated daily exploiting new personnel paid by the project as well as research fellows from both the university and the museum. The laboratory will be open to the public, and must be fully operative well within the first year of the project, because the visitors must have the possibility to see the “scientists at work” and to personally ask questions. Moreover, the lab will be open for several years after the end of the project.

Funding: European Commission
Coordinator: Deutsches Museum von Meisterwerken der Naturwissenschaft und Technik
Partners: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet München, Fondazione Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, Universeum AB, Chalmers Tekniska Hoegskola AB, Technopolis, Universiteit Antwerpen, Sihtasutus Teaduskeskus Ahhaa, Tartu Ulikool, Fondazione IDIS - Città della Scienza, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Association Européene des Expositions Scientifiques, Techniques et Industrielles
Scientist in charge at CIMaINa: Alessandro Podestà
Duration: 1 March 2009 - 31 August 2011