Lubrication theory has been one of the most successful and widely used theories in all of engineering and applied science. Therefore, researchers from tribology’s ‘traditional’ wing would be surprised to know that lubrication theory is not at all treated as a given by large group of nontraditional users. In a wide range of conditions applicable to many researchers in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), experimental results seem to indicate that forces separating surfaces vary according to film thickness to the power minus one, rather than minus three, as lubrication theory requires — a large fundamental discrepancy indeed. Hydrodynamic forces are not generally used to separate surfaces, but arise incidentally, and are usually the largest source of parasitic losses. Clearly, they must be accounted for in the design process.

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