Out of serendipity, it sometimes happens in science that difficult progress in one field may unexpectedly benefit from progress in another, apparently unrelated, field.
Sliding nanofriction between material lattices on one hand and the physics of cold ion traps on the other are so far non-overlapping fields in modern nanoscience. Two sliding crystals may either stick and show static friction or slip with dynamic friction; cold ions are known to form static chains, helices or clusters, depending on the trapping conditions.
The main thrust of a fresh research article just published by prestigious Nature Communications by researchers from AFRI and ACOF CRPs is to show that this kind of serendipity might here occur and that much could be learnt about friction by sliding through an electric field the trapped ion chains over a corrugated potential.
To know more read the article published by A. Benassi, A. Vanossi, and E. Tosatti, “Nanofriction in Cold Ion Traps”, Nature Communications 2:236 doi: 10.1038/ ncomms1230 (2011).