Tribology is the field of research within the mechanical engineering and material sciences disciplines that deals with the mechanical interaction of surfaces in contact moving relatively with respect to each other. Wear and friction are the natural result. In order to modify this behaviour the surfaces can be modified using geometric texturing, or by adding surface layers, or performing a specific surface treatment, or by adding an intermediate solid or fluid (liquid or gas). The latter is the lubricant, that improves the friction and wear characteristics of this contact. Generally ’improves’ stands for ’reduces’, however sometimes an increase in friction or even wear is the desired goal.


 Thin, fragile products such as silicon wafers and glass sheets for LCD-displays are easily broken or damaged during transport and manipulation. Every mechanical contact with the product introduces another risk for contamination, damage or even breakage.

So, the more or less natural and certainly challenging question from industry was:
Is it possible to handle, transport and accurately position these types of substrates without any mechanical contact?

In this concept the substrate is not carried using mechanical contact. Instead a pressurized air film is used to separate and lift the substrate from the system, similar to the method used in an aerostatic bearing. And by directing this traction on the substrate we accelerate the substrate in the direction it needs to go, but again, without any mechanical contact.