Martin Hartl is a Professor of Design and Process Engineering and a director of the Institute of Machine and Industrial design. He published more than 100 research articles in peer reviewed journal papers. His research is focused on tribology. He is an expert on lubrication and friction of artificial hip joints, lubricant rheology, elastohydrodynamic lubrication or smart systems for adhesion control in rail transportation.
Tribology, the science of wear, friction and lubrication, is the main research interest of Martin Hartl. During his study at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering he turned his attention to rolling bearings. He even won Student Research and Professional Activities competition with his work. Limit operating state of rolling bearings was also the main subject of his diploma thesis. He graduated with honours in 1990.
He was really interested in research and development. Therefore, he decided to enrol in doctoral study programme at the Department of Machine Elements and Mechanisms (today's Institute of Machine and Industrial Design). In his dissertation thesis he was supposed to carry on with what he did in his diploma thesis. However, he was more attracted to fundamental than to applied research. In 1980s and 1990s one of the major challenges in tribology was the research of elastohydrodynamic (EHL) lubrication. That was exactly what he wanted to do. To understand and study lubrication in which significant elastic deformation of the surfaces takes place considerably altering the shape and thickness of the separating lubricant film.
He thought about using method of colorimetric interferometry for measurement of lubricant film thickness. At that time, he met Prof. Liška, former director of the Institute of Physical Engineering, who is an expert on this method. He gave him much needed support. Very important for Martin Hartl was also that in 1990 Ivan Křupka, his biggest friend, enrolled in in the same doctoral study programme. Ivan Křupka helped him a lot in his ground-breaking work. Martin Hartl was developing the method and Ivan Křupka was building an experimental device. As early as during they doctoral study, they established at the Institute of Machine and Industrial Design Tribology Research Group.
It took almost five years to develop the method of colorimetric interferometry, which enables to measure and visualise thickness distribution of lubrication film in elastohydrodynamic contact. Martin Hartl and Ivan Křupka presented their method for the first time in 1997 at the World Tribology Congress in London. At the same time, they published it in the journals Optical Engineering, Computers & Graphics and Tribology Transaction. The success was immense. Their unique method attracted attention of all, who were interested in EHL lubrication. In 1997 Martin Hartl accepted invitation to be a visiting professor at the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA). At the same time, he met Prof. Motohiro Kaneta from Kyushu Institute of Technology, who invited him for a research visit.
Colorimetric interferometry is based on an idea of using differential colorimetry for assessing interference colours, which occur during interference in very thin lubrication film, which is being formed in the model contact. In this way can be reconstructed shape of lubrication film of thickness up to 1 nanometre with a resolution up to 1 nanometre. Thanks to colorimetric interferometry can be studied and clarified many phenomena in elastohydrodynamic contacts, especially those concerning effect of surface irregularities or lubricant rheology.
His research interest is focused mainly on EHL lubrication. He studies very thin lubricant films, especially effect of surface irregularities, lubricant rheology and operating conditions. He turned his attention also to biotribology. He studies friction, lubrication and wear of artificial hip joints and lately the effect of viscosupplementation on lubrication of synovial joints. His third area of research interest is tribology in rail transportation. He is focused on adhesion control in rail transportation. He and his colleagues develop smart on-board (wheel flange lubrication, sanding) and off-board (stationary lubricators) systems, which automatically adjust adhesion depending on changing operating conditions. He is not only involved in fundamental research but he is also doing a lot of work in applied and experimental research and development. He cooperates with many significant industrial companies from all over the world, e.g. Daido Metal, Koyo Bearings, K. K. IRISU, United Technologies and TriboTec.
He published more than 100 research articles in peer reviewed journal papers, e.g. Tribology International, Tribology Transaction, Tribology Letters, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology and Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. He is a member of editorial board of journals Friction and Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology. Sum of citations is more than 1000 and his h-index is 15.
Prof. Hartl was given for his exceptional work several awards. Above all can be mentioned Captain Alfred E. Hunt Memorial Award (awarded by Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers for the most significant publication in tribology) and the Talent 92 (awarded by Minister of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic for remarkable achievements in research during Ph.D. study).
In 2003 he was named a director of the Institute of Machine and Industrial Design, which he transformed into internationally recognised research and educational institution. When he speaks about his vision, he says: “Priority is research. Only those, who achieve excellent results in research, can educate students and stimulate their interest”.
He gives lectures on machine design for students in bachelor's degree programme. He changed conception of this course so as it meets high standards of the leading universities. He is also guarantor of master degree programme Mechanical Engineering Design, which he founded. He says: “The main target is to educate our students the way that they are able to solve wide range of problems in the field of machine design rather than to narrowly focus on particularities. For that reason, we based our approach to education on project and problem oriented teaching.” He also pays a lot of attention to doctoral study. He established course on methods and organization of scientific work, which he lectures. Under his supervision six students got their Ph.D. degree, e.g. Jan Čermák (engineering manager at KOYO Bearings) and Petr Šperka (head of Elastohydrodynamic Research Group at the Institute of Machine and Industrial Design). Currently he supervises two doctoral students.
Prof. Hartl was head of team of translators and scientific editorial board (with Miloš Vlk) of Czech translation of the publication Shigley, Joseph E.; Mischke, Charles R.; Budynas, Richard G. Mechanical engineering design. It was a very difficult task, because they not only translated the whole book, but they also had to adapt it to Czech conditions and technical standards.