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Automotive Tribology Center

The Automotive Tribology Center (ATC) is an academic research unit within the Mechanical Engineering department at Oakland University. It is the only university research center in the United States that is dedicated to automotive tribology research and is uniquely positioned to advance the reliability, mobility and efficiency of automotive components.

The ATC is dedicated to performing fundamental and applied research that lowers frictional energy losses and enhances reliability and durability of automotive components. A particular emphasis is placed on engine and transmission tribology. The new technology produced by the center will be transferred to the military, as well as to governmental and industrial sectors of the United States economy.

Contact us
Gary Barber, Ph.D., ATC Director
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Oakland University
Rochester, MI 48309-4401
[email protected]
(248) 370-2184
Fax: (248) 370-4416

Some specific areas of research performed at the ATC include: 

  1. Additives/lower viscosity lubricants for friction reduction
  2. Scuffing modeling and testing
  3. Molecular dynamics simulation of friction and wear mechanisms.
  4. Enhancement of physics-based tribology models using experimental data.
  5. Incorporation of tribology models in engine/ transmission/ vehicle system dynamic models to assess fuel economy, durability and reliability. 
  6. Nano-fluids for enhanced tribological and thermal performance

Below is a list of ongoing research projects at the ATC:

  1. Development of strategies for determining near surface stress and strain, temperature rise, and surface chemistry. 
  2. Development of molecular dynamics simulation techniques for the prediction of tribofilm chemistry, structure and properties. 
  3. Development of a software-based design tool which predicts friction coefficient, rate of wear, and the onset of scuffing.
  4. Wear and scuffing testing for model development and validation.
  5. Development of procedures for mixing nanoparticles into base oils to create stable, well-dispersed nanofluid mixtures.
  6. Investigation of the wear and friction performance of oil-based nanofluids.
  7. Testing and measurement of thermal conductivity of nanofluid mixtures.
  8. Development of classical and molecular dynamics simulation models to predict and elucidate the thermal and tribological behavior of nanofluid mixtures.
  9. Development of a test machine to study piston pin/bore scuffing.
  10. Determination of the effect of microstructure of materials such as steel, austempered cast iron and magnesium on tribological performance.
Dr. Gary Barber Headshot Dr. Gary Barber
Professor and Director, Mechanical Engineering 
Dr. Qian Zou Headshot Dr. Qian Zou
Professor and Co-director, Mechanical Engineering 
Dr. Zissimos Mourelatos Headshot Dr. Zissimos Mourelatos
Professor, Mechanical Engineering 
Dr. David Schall Headshot Dr. David Schall
Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering 
Dr. Laila Guessous Headshot Dr. Laila Guessous
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering 
Dr. Meir Schilor Headshot Dr. Meir Schilor
Professor, Mathematics 


Major equipment in the ATC includes:
  • Universal Micro-Tribometer(UMT3)
  • PHI 5000 VersaProbe Scanning ESCA Microprobe 
  • Bruker Contour GTK 3D Optical Profiler
  • Piston ring/skirt on cylinder bore scuffing tester
  • Piston pin on pin bore scuffing tester
  • Pin-on-disk test machine
  • FTIR System
  • Surface Tracer
Selected recent journal publications of ATC team:
  1. C. Novak, D. Kingman, K. Stern, Q. Zou, L. Gara, “Tribological Properties of Nanofluids with Nano-diamond Particles”, Tribology Transactions, in press.
  2. R. Petrach, D. Schall, Q. Zou, G. Barber, R. Gu, L. Guessous, “Microstructural Contact Mechanics Finite Element Modeling Used to Study the Effect of Coating Induced Residual Stresses on Bearing Failure Mechanisms”, SAE International Journal of Materials and Manufacturing, v 7, n 3, 2014.
  3. S. K. Kurgin, J. M. Dasch, D. L. Simon, G. C. Barber, Q. Zou, “A Comparison of Two Minimum Quantity Lubrication Delivery Systems”, Journal of Industrial Lubrication and Tribology, Vol. 66, No. 1, p151–159, 2014.
  4. Q. Zou, C. Rao, G. C. Barber, B. Zhou, Y. Wang, “Investigation of surface characteristics and tribological behavior of clutch plate materials”, Wear, 302, p1378–1383, 2013.
  5. L. Gara, Q. Zou, “Friction and Wear Characteristics of Oil Based ZnO Nanofluids”, Tribology Transaction, Vol. 56, No.2, p236-244, 2013. 
  6. J. David Schall and Judith Harrison, “A Reactive Bond-Order Potential for Si-, C-, and H-Containing Materials”, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 117 (3), pp 1323–1334, 2013.
  7. J. Han, Q. Zou, “Evolution of Contact Characteristics during a Scuffing Process”, Tribology Transactions, Vol.56, No.4, p58-64, 2013.
  8. L. Gara, Q. Zou, “Friction and Wear Characteristics of Water-Based ZnO and Al2O3 Nanofluids”, Tribology Transactions, Volume 55, Issue 3, p345-350, 2012.
  9. J. Han, Q. Zou, G. C. Barber, T. Nasir, D. O. Northwood, X. C. Sun, P. Seaton, “Study of the Effects of Austempering Temperature and Time on Scuffing Behavior of Austempered Ni–Mo–Cu Ductile Iron”, Wear, 290–291, pp. 99–105, 2012.
  10. S. Kurgin, J. Dasch, D. Simon, G. C. Barber and Q. Zou, “Evaluation of the Convective Heat Transfer Coefficient for Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL)”, Journal of Industrial Lubrication and Tribology, Vol. 64, No. 6, pp. 376-386, 2012
  11. N. Mikecz, N. Kelley, E. Othman, R. Lumbreras, J. Han, G. C. Barber, Q. Zou, J. D. Schall, “Scuffing Behavior of 4140 Alloy Steel and Ductile Cast Iron”, SAE International Journal of Materials and Manufacturing, v5, n1, pp. 122-128, 2012.
  12. J. Han, R. Zhang, O. O. Ajayi, G. C. Barber, Q. Zou, L. Guessous, J. D. Schall, S. Alnabulsi, “Scuffing behavior of gray iron and 1080 steel in reciprocating and rotational sliding”, Wear, 271, pp. 1854-1861, 2011.
  13. E. A. Liu, Q. Zou, “Machined surface error analysis - a face milling approach”, Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Systems, v 10, n 2, p 293-307, December 2011.
  14. M. Krak, B. Ropp, J. Tilden, J. Han, G. C. Barber, Q. Zou, “Scuffing Resistance of Surface Treated 8625 Alloy Steels”, SAE International Journal of Materials and Manufacturing, v4, n1, pp. 119-124, 2011.
  15. L. Gara, Q. Zou, B. P. Sangeorzan, G. C. Barber, H. E. McCpormick, M. H. Mekari, “Wear Measurement of the Cylinder Liner of a Single Cylinder Diesel Engine Using a Replication Method”, Wear, 268(3-4), pp. 558-564, 2010.
  16. Z. Shi, , X. Wang, L. Guessous, “Effect of compression on the water management of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell with different gas diffusion layers”, Journal of Fuel Cell Science and Technology, v 7, n 2, p 0210121-0210127, April 2010.J. D. Schall, G.T. Gao, and J.A. Harrison, ‘The Effects of Adhesion and Transfer Film Formation on the Tribology of Self-Mated DLC Contacts’, J. Phys. Chem, 114 (12), 5321-5330, 2010.
  17. A. Singh, Z. P. Mourelatos, J. Li, “Design for lifecycle cost using time-dependent reliability”, Journal of Mechanical Design, Transactions of the ASME, v 132, n 9, p 0910081-09100811, 2010.

School of Engineering and Computer Science

Engineering Center, Room 301
115 Library Drive
Rochester , MI 48309-447
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Dean's Office (248) 370-2217
Academic Advising (248) 370-2201