What is Frictionless Surface: Examples, Detailed Analysis


The imaginary surface where friction is almost zero or negligible is called a frictionless surface. Here, we will be to explore in depth about what is frictionless surface.

A frictionless surface is an invented concept of a surface that is based on the imagination and creative ideas of scientists where the assumed friction of a surface is zero. This is an imaginary surface that is created artificially, which includes its properties upto some extent.

What does a frictionless surface mean?

The surface whose friction is almost zero or has no friction leading to the free movement of objects is called a frictional surface.

A Frictionless surface refers to that kind of surface where the force acting on any object which makes it difficult for the object to slide is almost zero or negligible, i.e., no resistance between surface or substance allowing the object to slide and move freely without any friction.

Are there any frictionless surfaces?

Frictionless surfaces have no existence by themselves in the real world. They are only views and ideas of many different scientists about a surface which has zero friction.

In the practical world, there is no frictionless surface, even if its created artificially, the smoothest surface will have some roughness at some locations, causing the sharp-pointed parts of the plates of one surface to settle into the cores of another surface. This causes the opposition of forces keeping a body in motion to change it finally into rest.

Read more about: What is High Viscosity: Critical Facts

However, Galileo gave an equation that predicts the motion of an object when it is in motion down the inclined plane. But, it does not fully depict and contemplate the friction resulting in the inaccurate prediction of results.

Although the concept of frictional surface cannot be fully implemented or designed, a few materials have considerable values existing of frictionless surface in their manufactured designs. These are those materials which, upto some extent, follow Galileo‘s prediction of a perfectly frictionless surface, for example, motors, roadways, low-truck beds, engines, etc.

Scientists have tried a lot to make a frictionless surface but, since it is not possible to make a totally frictionless surface, they suffered a failure. But, in this failure, they have discovered that wet ice is the most smoothest surface present on the earth and discovered till now. So, an Ice-Hockey field has been created by scientists keeping the view to make it the most frictionless surface.

How to make a frictionless surface?

It is not possible to make a frictionless surface practically in the real world. Many scientists have tried to do so, but our technology is still not so advanced to make a fully frictionless surface.

Friction is caused even by the slightest ups and downs in the surface. Even if a surface is fully plained it cannot be reduced to zero or even to a state where its existence can be considered as negligible. These circumstances and factors lead to the conclusion that practically it is not possible to make a frictionless surface.

However, we can try to come at least a step closer towards making a frictionless surface by “Superlubricity”. Superlubricity is a phenomena or set of rules of motion which when adopted, can nearly vanish the friction. In this method, two crystalline surfaces are slid over each other under certain conditions to make the outer portion of the crystalline surface act as, to some extent as a frictionless surface.

Another way to make a surface close to a frictionless surface is to make a magnetic bearing using magnetic suspensions that levitate objects with the help of magnetic forces.

Read more about: High Viscosity Vs. Low Viscosity: Exhaustive Comparison

How do you stop on a frictionless surface?

Practically, it is not possible to stop on a frictionless surface unless an opposing force acts on you, which will slowly decrease your speed and finally get you to rest or a static state.

In a frictionless surface, if a body or an object is in motion, it is best to apply an external force opposing the direction of motion of the body or the object in motion to decrease its speed of motion on the frictionless surface. The equal and opposite forces would cancel each other, finally leading the movement of the body to stop.

Frictionless Surface
Pushing an object on Frictionless surface

If a person is trapped on a frictionless surface and wants to get away from it, then he or she can search for any object or obstacle attached to the surface so that by holding it, the motion of the person will slow down and eventually will led him to stop there.

The person can also use force on an object opposite to his or her motion moving towards the person. Here, when the resultant force will reach zero, the person will eventually stop.

What happens if you push something on a frictionless surface?

Considering an imaginary situation as in the practical world of ours, the frictionless surface is not possible but if you push something on a frictionless surface, the object will start to accelerate.

The movement of the object in motion will not stop until and unless an external force is applied, which is equal to the force applied by the object in motion on the frictional surface. When an external force is applied to that object in motion on the frictional surface, it will eventually come to a stop following the Newton’s third law of motion.

In the case of an imaginary surface termed as frictionless surface, there are no opposing forces like static frictional force, gravitational forces etc acting on the object being pushed. This makes the flow of the object free from being stuck on the surface.

What happens if the floor is frictionless?

Friction helps any body to stuck to the surface. If the floor is frictionless, body will slip and won’t be able to stay on it.

If the floor is frictionless, we would not be able to walk or stand on that surface. Moreover, if we will keep any object on that surface, it will simply slide away from its original position and would be in motion until an equivalent opposing external force is applied to make it come to rest.

We are able to stand or walk on any surface due to a force acting on us that stops us from slipping on the surface, which is called frictional force. The trench of our slippers and feets are trapped to the unfurnished impressions or irregularities of the surface, causing us to stand on the surface.

Can you walk on a frictionless surface. Why? Why Not?

It is impossible to walk on a frictionless surface as for walking on a surface, a force called frictional force is needed, which opposes our movement, making us to stand or walk on the surface.

When we stand on a surface, our feet or shoes have grooves or crests in them, which get locked in the irregular ups and downs of the surface. This locking of grooves in the irregularities of the surface keeps us to stand or walk affirmatively on the surface. Moreover, this type of irregularities can’t be found in frictionless surfaces.

Is ice a frictionless surface?

Ice can be considered as a slippery surface. It cannot be considered as a frictionless surface.

what is frictionless surface
Photo by Rachael Ren on Unsplash

When a person skates on a block of ice, the friction between ice and skate creates heat which melts the ice. Here, between ice and skate, there is friction that directly opposes the ice to fall in the category of frictionless surface.

Recent Posts