Surface texturing has been frequently used for tribological purposes in the last three decades due to its great potential to reduce friction and wear. Although biological systems advocate the use of hierarchical, multi-scale surface textures, most of the published experimental and numerical works have mainly addressed effects induced by single-scale surface textures. Therefore, it can be assumed that the potential of multi-scale surface texturing to further optimize friction and wear is underexplored. The aim of this review article is to shed some light on the current knowledge in the field of multi-scale surface textures applied to tribological systems from an experimental and numerical point of view. Initially, fabrication techniques with their respective advantages and disadvantages regarding the ability to create multi-scale surface textures are summarized. Afterwards, the existing state-of-the-art regarding experimental work performed to explore the potential, as well as the underlying effects of multi-scale textures under dry and lubricated conditions, is presented. Subsequently, numerical approaches to predict the behavior of multi-scale surface texturing under lubricated conditions are elucidated. Finally, the existing knowledge and hypotheses about the underlying driven mechanisms responsible for the improved tribological performance of multi-scale textures are summarized, and future trends in this research direction are emphasized.
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