Michael Nosonovsky - Assistant Professor

Contact Information

Office Address:
EMS 981
3200 North Cramer Street
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Phone: 414-229-2816
Fax: 414-229-6958
Email: nosonovs@uwm.edu

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 784
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53201

Michael Nosonovsky


  • PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Northeastern University (Boston, MA), 2001
  • MS/BA in Mechanical Engineering, St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (Russia), 1992

Research Interests

  • Self-organization at the interface (self-healing, self-lubrication, self-cleaning)
  • Biomimetic surfaces, including novel applications of the Lotus effect (omniphobicity, anti-fouling)
  • Adhesion and capillary force
  • Contact mechanics and dynamic friction
  • Fundamentals of friction and classical mechanics, History of classical mechanics

Other Accomplishments

  • CEAS Excellence in Research Award (2013)
  • ASME Burt L. Newkirk award "for outstanding theoretical research in nanotribology " (2008)
  • NRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2005-2007)
  • Best Reviewer award (2006), ASME Journal of Tribology

Selected Publications

Total citations: 3176 (one of the most cited scientists in the World in the rank of Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering)


  1. P. R. Menezes, S.P. Ingole, M. Nosonovsky, S. Kailas, M.R. Lovell, M.R. (Eds.) Tribology for Scientists and Engineers (Springer, 2013)
  2. M. Nosonovsky & V. Mortazavi. Friction-Induced Vibrations and Self-Organization: Mechanics and Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics of Sliding Contact (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, 2013, forthcoming, see annotation at the end of this page)
  3. M. Nosonovsky and P. K. Rohatgi Biomimetics in Materials Science: Self-healing, self-lubricating, and self-cleaning materials (Springer Series in  Materials Science, 2011, ISBN 978-1-4614-0925-0)
  4. M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan, Multiscale Dissipative Mechanisms and Hierarchical Surfaces: Friction, Superhydrophobicity, and Biomimetics (NanoScience and Technology Series, Springer, Heidelberg, 2008)
  5. M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan, Multiscale Dissipative Mechanisms and Hierarchical Surfaces: Friction, Superhydrophobicity, and Biomimetics, Peking University Press, 2013 (Chinese edition 多尺度耗散机制与分级表面——摩擦、超疏水性与仿生) ISBN: 978-7-301-22712-1

Edited Books and Journal Issues

  1. "Biomimetics" section editor, Springer Encyclopedia of Nanotechnology (Ed. B. Bhushan, 2012), Vols. 1-4
  2. M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan (eds.), Green Tribology Biomimetics, Energy Conservation, and Sustainability (Springer Series in Green Energy and Technology, 2012, in press, ISBN 978-3-642-23680-8)
  3. M. Nosonovsky (ed.) Entropy and Friction (Special issue of Entropy Journal, 2010)
  4. M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan (eds.), Green Tribology (Theme issue of the Phil. Trans Royal. Soc. A., 2010), Vol. 368


Selected journal publications (total >50)

  1. I. Flores Vivian, V. Hejazi, M. Kozhukhova, M. Nosonovsky, K. Sobolev, "Self-assembling particle-siloxane coatings for superhydrophobic concrete" ACS applied materials & interfaces" ACS Appl Mater & Interfaces, 5 (2013) 13284-13294
  2. V. Hejazi, K. Sobolev, and M. Nosonovsky "From superhydrophobicity to icephobicity: forces and interaction analysis ", Nature's Scientific Reports, 2013, 3:2194 http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130712/srep02194/full/srep02194.html
  3. V. Mortazavi, R. Dsouza, and M. Nosonovsky "Study of contact angle hysteresis using Cellular Potts Model ", Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013, 15 (8), 2749 - 2756
  4. M.Nosonovsky and V. Hejazi. "Why Superhydrophobic Surfaces Are Not Always Icephobic ", ACS Nano, 2012, 6:8488-8491
  5. V. Hejazi and M.Nosonovsky. "Wetting transitions in two-, three-, and four-phase systems ", Langmuir, 2012, Vol. 28:2173-2180
  6. V. Hejazi, A. Nyong, P. Rohatgi, M. Nosonovsky "Wetting transitions in underwater oleophobic surface of brass " Adv. Mater. Adv. Mater. 24 (2012) 5963-5966)
  7. V. Mortazavi, C. Wang, and M. Nosonovsky, "Stability of Frictional Sliding With the Coefficient of Friction Depended on the Temperature " ASME J Tribology 134 (2012) 041601
  8. M. Nosonovsky, "Slippery when wetted " Nature 477 (2011) 412-413
  9. V. Mortazavi and M. Nosonovsky, "Friction-Induced Pattern-Formation and Turing systems " Langmuir 27 (2011) 4772-4779
  10. M. Nosonovsky, "Self-organization at the frictional interface for green tribology " Phil. Trans. Royal. Soc. A., (2010), Vol. 368:4755-4774
  11. M. Nosonovsky, "Entropy in Tribology: in the Search for Applications " Entropy, 12:1345-1390 (2010)
  12. M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan, "Green tribology: principles, research areas and challenges " Phil. Trans. Royal. Soc. A., (2010), Vol. 368:4677-4694
  13. M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan, "Thermodynamics of surface degradation, self-organization, and self-healing for biomimetic surfaces, " Phil. Trans. Royal. Soc. A367 (2009) 1607-1627
  14. M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan, "Superhydrophobic surfaces and emerging applications: non-adhesion, energy, green engineering, " Current Opinion in Coll. Interface Sci, 14 (2009) 270-280
  15. M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan, "Multiscale effects and capillary interactions in functional biomimetic surfaces for energy conversion and green engineering, " Phil. Trans. Royal. Soc. A367 (2009) 1511-1539
  16. S.H. Yang, M. Nosonovsky, H. Zhang, and K.H. Chung, "Nanoscale water capillary bridges under deeply negative pressure " Chem. Phys. Lett., 451 (2008) 88-92
  17. M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan, "Biologically-inspired surfaces: broadening the scope of roughness " Adv. Func. Mater. 18 (2008) 843-855
  18. M. Nosonovsky and S. K. Esche, "Multiscale effects in crystal grain growth and physical properties of metals, " Phys Chem. Chem. Phys., 10 (2008) 5192-5195
  19. M. Nosonovsky, "Multiscale Roughness and Stability of Superhydrophobic Biomimetic Interfaces, " Langmuir, 23 (2007) 3157-3161
  20. M. Nosonovsky, "On the Range of Applicability of the Wenzel and Cassie Equations " Langmuir 23 (2007) 9919-9920
  21. M. Nosonovsky, "Model for Solid-Liquid and Solid-Solid Friction for Rough Surfaces with Adhesion Hysteresis, " J. Chem. Phys., 126 (2007) 224701
  22. M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan, "Biomimetic Superhydrophobic Surfaces: Multiscale Approach, " Nano Lett., 7 (2007) 2633-2637
  23. M. Nosonovsky and B. Bhushan, "Multiscale friction mechanisms and hierarchical surfaces in nano- and bio-tribology, " Mater. Sc., and Eng. Rep.:, 58 (2007) 162-193
  24. M. Nosonovsky and G.G. Adams, "Vibration and Stability of Frictional Sliding of Two Elastic Bodies With a Wavy Contact Interface," ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics, 71 (2004) 154-300.
  25. B. Bhushan and M. Nosonovsky, "Scale Effects in Friction Using Strain Gradient Plasticity and Dislocation-Assisted Sliding (Microslip), " Acta Mater., 51 (2003) 4331-4345

Funded Projects ($1.07M) External funds (Total $509K)

  • P. K. Rohatgi (PI), M. Nosonovsky (co-PI) "Advanced design and novel In-situ synthesis of self-cleaning and wear resistant metallic surfaces for water industry components" NSF I/UCRC Fundamental Research , $199.99k, August 2013-August 2015
  • M. Nosonovsky (sole PI) Information Storage Industry Consortium (INSIC) TAPE Program unrestricted research grant "BIOMIMETIC COATINGS TO PROTECT THE HEAD-TAPE INTERFACE " $36.5k, March 2010-Dec 2011.
  • P. Rohatgi (PI) and M. Nosonovsky (co-PI) NSF I/UCRC sponsored grant "SELF-CLEANING MATERIALS FOR WATER INDUSTRY ", $126k, July 2010-July 2013.
  • K. Sobolev (PI), M. Nosonovsky (co-PI) "Anti-Icing and De-Icing Superhydrophobic Concrete to Improve the Safety on Critical Elements of Roadway Pavements and Bridges," CFIRE, $146.5k, October 2012-October 2013

Internal funds (Total $680.9k)

  • M. Nosonovsky (sole PI) "Environmentally benign biomimetic antifouling coatings " Bradley Catalyst, $30k, July 2010-March, 2012
  • M. Nosonovsky (PI), P. Rohatgi (co-PI) and E. Wornyoh (co-PI) "Self-organization at the sliding interface: towards biomimetic self-lubrication and self-replenishing " $399k, UWM Research Growth Initiative, July 2010-June 2012
  • M. Nosonovsky (PI), K Sobolev (co-PI) "Superhydrophobic 3D concretes and surfaces " $267k, UWM Research Growth Initiative, July 2012-June 2014
  • M. Nosonovsky Graduate School Research Committee Award (GSRCA) $14.9k, declined due to state budget reductions


  • ME360 Introduction into Mechanical Design
  • ME726 Mechanical Vibrations
  • ME715 Numerical Methods in Engineering
  • ME760 Dynamic Problems in Design
  • ME490 Special Topics - Biomimetic and Functional Surfaces


  • Entropy Journal,  Editorial board member
  • Springer Encyclopedia of Nanotechnology, "Biomimetics " Section Editor
  • Reviewer for Nature, Langmuir, J Am Chem Soc, Nano Letters, and for many other journals of ASME, ACS, AIP, etc. as well as for various funding agencies in the US and abroad.

In the Media

"Although superhydrophobic surfaces repel water, do they keep off ice as well? Not always. As Michael Nosonovsky and Vahid Hejazi at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee explain, the often-bumpy of superhydrophobic surfaces traps air pockets between the solid and the liquid. When water freezes, these air pockets become the basis of cracks in the ice, and the larger cracks are, the easier it is to dislodge ice off a surface." (Charles Q. Choi "Worth Pitching?: Mysteries of Rain and Ice" Scientific American blog, October 5, 2012)

"Researchers at the university, including Michael Nosonovsky, began examining several samples of lotus leaves... As the researchers developed computer models of the leaves' surfaces, Dr. Bhushan said, it became apparent that the bumps increase their contact angle with water droplets. The higher that angle, the more likely a surface will repel water."  (Ian Austen "On the Road to Low-Friction Micro Devices, Some Bumps" The New York Times, January 27, 2005)

"In 2007, Nosonovsky showed that if you got the architecture of a surface\92s roughness just right, creating caves, nooks and crannies that bend back in on themselves, you could create repulsive surface forces equating to huge contact angles for all sorts of liquids. It was a simple but game-changing insight. " (Jessica Griggs, "Omniphobia: the stuffs that stick at nothing" New Scientist on 24 November 2012, p 46-49)

"The new findings are an important step towards creating robust omniphobic surfaces, says Michael Nosonovsky. Omniphobic surfaces repel contaminants in an environmentally friendly way, he notes, so they could be used, for instance, as a coating for self-cleaning solar panels." (Sid Perkins "Blueprint to repel oil and water" Science News, December 6, 2008)

"In 2007, Nosonovsky created a theoretical surface architecture that addressed superhydrophobicity at both nano- and microscales, with crannies that bent back in on themselves. It was used by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to make ketchup bottles that allowed the product to slide out without sticking to the sides" ("Super-surfaces suggested by nature" By Laura L. Hunt, UWM News, August 23, 2013)

What colleagues say

"Dr Nosonovsky is a highly successful, productive and original scholar with an impressive publication record. He performs outstanding cutting-edge research in various areas of mechanics of materials related to surface science and tribology" (CEAS Excellence in Research Award).

"You are extremely productive as always hitting top journals. I take pride as you started with me when you were a young scientist and I have seen you grow." (Prof. Bharat Bhushan, Ohio State University)

"Michael, This is great that you have been able to publish about self-healing, self-lubricating and self-cleaning materials in Nature. This will certainly advance our efforts in this area" (Prof. Pradeep K. Rohatgi, UWM)

"This is very impressive! Keep up your quality of work." (Prof. Ryoichi S. Amano, UWM)

What alumni say

"I was doing well in my classes, but nothing really caught my attention until I took Professor Nosonovsky's class on biomimetic and functional surfaces, I just immediately loved it.... When I compared what I was doing in Professor Nosonovsky's lab with my options in traditional engineering, I decided my money was on the freshwater applications. Especially after my research paper was published, I knew this was the field I wanted to continue in." (Tyler Hurd, engineer at Pentair, Glendale, WI)

"Dr. Nosonovsky is a great and very patient and one of the best instructors I have had at UWM... I especially liked taking Mechanical Vibrations with him as he taught the a completely different approach to solving vibration problems that we were not familiar with from our undergraduate engineering classes" (Ohganetega Anene-Maidoh, graduate student at Georgia Tech)

M. Nosonovsky & V. Mortazavi. Friction-Induced Vibrations and Self-Organization: Mechanics and Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics of Sliding Contact (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, 2013)


  • Shows how friction-induced instabilities and vibrations can lead to self-organized structures
  • Combines mechanical and thermodynamic approaches to friction-induced instabilities
  • Formulates a general stability criterion for mechanical, thermal, chemical, and other effects during sliding
  • Relates friction-induced self-organization to novel self-lubricating and self-healing materials
  • Shows how friction laws can be related to the second law of thermodynamics and explains the striking universality of Coulombian friction
  • Discusses the entropic principles that govern the running-in transient processes
  • Includes more than 100 illustrations, plus a four-page color insert

Friction is usually thought as a process that leads to irreversible dissipation of energy and wear is thought of as irreversible deterioration. Many scientists and engineers do not realize that under certain conditions friction can lead to the formation of new structures at the interface, including in-situ tribofilms, and various patterns at the interface. Friction-induced self-organization was studied mostly by scholars in Eastern Europe in the 1970-1990s although the field remains exotic to many tribologists in other countries.

Friction-induced instabilities are related to friction-induced self-organization. Friction is usually thought as a stabilizing factor; however, sometimes friction leads to the instability of sliding, in particular when friction is coupled with another process. For example, thermoelastic instabilities were studied extensively by J. R. Barber. These instabilities arise from the fact that friction is coupled with heat generation, which, in turn, is coupled with material expansion, creating a positive feedback. If friction increases locally due to a random fluctuation, more heat is generated, leading to higher local normal pressures at the interface and, in turn, to increased friction. Thus a random fluctuation has a tendency to grow, signifying the instability. A similar situation occurs when the coefficient of friction decreases with the increasing sliding velocity: a small random increase of the sliding velocity leads to a decrease of the frictional resistance and to the further increasing of velocity. It was discovered in the 1990s that frictional elastodynamic instabilities (the Adams-Martins instabilities) occur even in the case when the coefficient of friction is constant. Instabilities are related to self-organization because they constitute the main mechanism for pattern formation. At first, a stationary structure loses its stability; after that, vibrations with increasing amplitude occur, leading to a limiting cycle corresponding to a periodic pattern.

We discuss a general variational stability criterion of the stationary state of frictional sliding, δ^2(dS/dt)>0, where dS/dt is the rate of entropy production and δ^2 is the second variation. The criterion is very powerful since it allows combining very diverse mechanisms of frictional instabilities within one general theory. The entropy S can include pure mechanical, thermodynamic, heat and mass transfer, chemical reactions, and other terms. Variations of the relevant parameters (physically corresponding to small random fluctuation) can either be suppressed or expand. The stability criterion captures this trend. For the case of the constant temperature T, sliding velocity V, and normal load W, the criterion can be significantly simplified.

Furthermore, we wanted to combine the mechanical and thermodynamic methods in tribology. From the thermodynamic point of view, friction and wear are two sides of the same phenomenon: irreversible energy dissipation and material deterioration during sliding. As with any irreversibility, both friction and wear are the consequences of the second law of thermodynamics. It would be therefore logical to expect that the laws of friction and wear (such as the Coulomb and Archard laws) are deduced from the thermodynamic principles of irreversibility. However, in practice this is difficult to achieve. We suggest a procedure on how this can be done using Onsager\92s linearized laws of irreversible thermodynamics combined with the asymptotic transition from the bulk to the interface. Non-equilibrium (irreversible) thermodynamics is also useful for the study of friction-induced self-organization. In general, the place of thermodynamic methods in tribology is growing.

The area of friction-induced self-organization is related to novel biomimetic materials, such as self-lubricating, self-cleaning, and self-healing materials. These "smart " materials have the embedded capacity for self-organization, leading to their unusual properties. Understanding the structure-property relationships leading to self-organization is the key to designing these novel materials. It is noted that these materials often have hierarchical organization, which makes them similar to biological materials.

All this background information caused us to look at friction, as a physical phenomenon, from a different angle. For most conventional textbooks on mechanics, Coulomb\92s dry friction is quite an external phenomenon, which is postulated in the form of laws of friction (usually, the Coulomb-Amontons laws) introduced in an arbitrary and ad hoc manner in addition to the constitutive laws of mechanics. Furthermore, the very compatibility of the Coulomb friction laws with the laws of mechanics is questionable due to the existence of the so-called frictional paradoxes or logical contradictions in the mechanical problems with friction. The Coulomb-Amontons law is not considered a fundamental law of nature, but an approximate empirical rule, whereas friction is perceived as a collective name for various unrelated effects of different nature and mechanisms, such as adhesion, fracture, and deformation, lacking any internal unity or universality.

Despite this artificial character of friction laws in mechanics, Coulomb friction is a fundamental and universal phenomenon that is observed for all classes of materials and for loads ranging from nanonewtons in nanotribology to millions of tons in seismology. There is a clear contradiction between the generality and universality of friction and the artificial manner of how the friction laws are postulated in mechanics and physics. Is it by chance that all these diverse conditions and mechanisms lead to the same (or at least similar) laws of friction? If a thermodynamic approach is used consistently, the laws of friction and wear can be introduced in a much more consistent way.

These reflections about the fundamental nature of friction and its status in physics caused us also to examine with great attention the role of friction in physics throughout the history of science. In the days of Aristotle\92s "Physics, " friction was seen as a fundamental force having the same status as inertia force (nothing would move without inertia, nothing would stop without friction). The problem of inertia force was one of the central issues of physics throughout the middle ages, until it was finally resolved by Galileo, leading to the foundation of modern mechanics by Newton in the late 17th century. In contrast, friction force was not usually seen as a fundamental force of nature and became somewhat marginal in modern mechanics. Viewing friction as a fundamental force of nature to some extent restores the original Aristotelian approach.


We study how surface roughness affects adhesion with water, organic liquids, bacteria, ice, concrete and other materials. Among all forces of nature, surface forces are worst understood by students. Imagine, for example, a water droplet suspended on a ceiling by the surface forces. Where the force is applied, is it at the 1D perimeter of the droplet or at the 2D contact area? How can a force be applied to a 1D three-phase line, rather than to a material body? Many students have difficulties answering these questions.

One prominent manifestation of the surface forces is the Lotus effect. The ancient Hindu poem Bhagavad Gita says about the seeker of truth "Having abandoned attachment, he acts untainted by evil, just as a lotus leaf is not wetted." Lotus leaf emerges clean from dirty water due to special hierarchical microstructure of its surface, and scientists mimic superhydrophobic and self-cleaning properties of the lotus effect. Furthermore, surfaces that repel various substances, from oil to bacteria, to ice are being developed by scientists.

Besides wetting, hydrophobicity is crucial for many important effects, such as the "hydrophobic effect" and hydrophobic interactions. For two hydrophobic molecules (e.g., hydrocarbons) placed in water, there is an effective repulsive hydrophobic force due to their interaction with the water medium. The hydrophobic effect, entropic in its nature, is responsible for folding of proteins and other macro-molecules and has wide application in many physical, biological, and chemical processes. We are investigating the similarities between the superhydrophobicity, icephobicity and adhesion on various levels, from the thermodynamic entropic nature of these interaction, to the parallelism between snowflake formation, protein folding and frictional stick-slip, to engineering applications such as superhydrophobic nanoengineered concretes and self-cleaning materials for water industry.

There are many interesting effects in how biological materials and tissues are organized (e.g., their multiscale hierarchical organization) which are now well understood by biologists and the knowledge should be transferred into engineering. In the past, we suggested that thermodynamic methods of analysis of self-organized patterns and structures can be applied to the materials with embedded self-healing mechanisms. Such methods will allow to relate the structure (including the micro- and nanostructure) of such materials and composites to their self-healing properties. The structure-property relationships help designing the optimized structure and serve as a guidance for synthesizing such materials, for which currently the trial-and-error approach is usually employed.