The Science of Friction — and its Surprising Impact on our Lives

Feb, 10 2020
The science of friction — and its surprising impact on our lives | TED@DuPont
Jennifer Vail


Tribology: it's a funny-sounding word you might not have heard before, but it could change how you see and interact with the physical world, says mechanical engineer Jennifer Vail. Offering lessons from tribology - the study of friction and wear - Vail describes the surprisingly varied ways it impacts everyday life and how it could help us make a better world.
Quote of the talk:

“I have to admit that it’s a lot of fun when people ask me what I do for my job, because I tell them: ‘I literally rub things together.'”

About the Speaker

Jennifer Vail

Jennifer Vail is a tribologist, combining mechanical engineering and materials science to understand interacting surfaces in relative motion. She has worked on a wide range of projects, from aerospace materials to syringes to dog food. She is passionate about using tribology to reduce energy consumption and produce longer-lasting materials.

At DuPont, Vail partners with chemists and engineers to apply her background to solve challenges with wear and friction of materials. She believes there are endless possibilities for tribological innovation, and it starts with seeing friction in your everyday life.


DuPont Transportation & Industrial:
transforming industries and improving lives through material science

From automotive and aerospace to healthcare, electronics and more, we work collaboratively with customers to create advanced solutions that deliver results.

Learn more

About TED@DuPont

Transformation begins with the spark of something new.

In 2018, TED and DuPont began a partnership to do just that: TRANSFORM. As the world and our interactions grow more complex, so do our challenges. To solve for modern problems, we decided to pursue a new framework for innovation itself, one that considers all perspectives and outcomes in the calculus. This inaugural TED@DuPont event signifies a monumental step to unlock the institutional knowledge within the organization and showcase the New DuPont. Taking place in September 2019, at The Fillmore in Philadelphia, the day’s topics ranged from science, technology, and beyond. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED