11R63. Biological Micro- and Nanotribology: Nature’s Solutions. NanoScience and Technology Series. - M Scherge (IAVF Antriebstechnik AG, Im Schlehert 32, Karlsruhe, 76187, Germany) and SS Gorb (Biologische Mikrotribologie Gruppe, MPI fur Entwicklungsbiologie, Spemannstr 35, Tubingen, 72076, Germany). Springer-Verlag, New York. 2001. 304 pp. ISBN 3-540-41188-7. $74.95.

Reviewed by JL Lewis (Orthopaedic Surgery and Mech Eng, Univ of Minnesota, 420 Delaware St, SE, Box 289, Minneapolis MN 55455).

This book describes the methods, questions, and knowledge base of tribology and adhesion phenomena that occurs in nature. This is a reference book intended for those interested in beginning research in this field. The book is organized into four sections, beginning with an overview of engineering tribology. The second section provides the core of the text, with examples of lubrication, adhesion, anti-adhesion, and friction in natural biological systems. This includes discussion of cartilage lubrication, friction of fish and snake skin, adhesion in mollusks and crustaceans, and anti-adhesives in plants. The third section describes test equipment used in this field, mainly tools of surface science, such as microtribometers, nanoindenters, spectrometers, and various microscopes. The fourth section describes three case studies of bio-tribology, all of these dealing with some aspect of the contact pads of insects.

This is really a pioneering work for introducing a fascinating topic. Nature has devised ingenious solutions to sticking, sliding, and wear. There is certainly much to be learned that may lead to useful technological solutions, in the spirit of biomimetics. However, because of its pioneering nature, the book leaves much work to be done. As the authors point out, “Even selected examples show the present state of knowledge is very poor.” The description of the field in section two is more an anatomy description, rather than a description of tribological mechanisms in nature, most of which are apparently poorly understood. There is heavy emphasis on adhesion mechanisms, which would not normally be thought of as tribology. The review of tribology in section one is necessarily cursory, but one would need to have a good background in tribology to follow it in much detail, and if one had that background, section one would probably not be needed. The book is well prepared, with clear figures, although there are some slips in editing. For example, cartilage tissue composition is briefly described and the reader referred to a figure of synovial membrane for illustration. Overall, however, the book is pleasing to read, and the figures are clear. There is an extensive bibliography, which would be especially useful for new researchers in this field.

Although there are many limitations to this book, it does achieve its intended goal. This is a good source for someone wanting to begin or explore research potentials in this field. After reading Biological Micro- and Nanotribology: Nature’s Solutions, one has a sense of the questions, methods, and literature in the field. It would be a useful purchase for individuals and reference libraries.