Argibay, Ph.D.

Principal Member of Technical Staff
Material, Physical, and Chemical Sciences Center
Sandia National Laboratories

B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Florida 
B.S., Aerospace Engineering, University of Florida
M.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Florida 
Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Florida 

As a Principal member of the technical staff in Sandia’s Material, Physical, and Chemical Sciences Center, Dr. Nicolas Argibay’s area of expertise is tribology, the study of interacting surfaces in relative motion, including the principles of friction, lubrication, and wear. A highly interdisciplinary field, tribology draws on engineering, mathematics, biology, physics, chemistry, and materials science. 

That Dr. Argibay would choose as his specialty such a challenging and diverse field reflects his upbringing as the son of a university professor and a computer programmer who brought their family to Miami from their original home in Montevideo, Uruguay when he was only nine years old. Right after they arrived, so did the devastating Hurricane Andrew, leaving them in danger when they were ordered to evacuate and, not knowing anyone or speaking English well, decided to shelter in place. 

Luckily, they survived unscathed, and Dr. Argibay was soon learning English and attending Belen Jesuit Prep School where he discovered his interest in STEM and was a founding member of the school’s physics club. He knew he wanted to become a scientist, but it wasn’t until he met Dr. Wallace Gregory Sawyer as an undergraduate at the University of Florida that he realized his future was in tribology.

Dr. Sawyer convinced his student that was tribology was complicated enough not to get boring, was interdisciplinary, and lay “at the intersection of everything!” —encompassing everything from fluid dynamics, engineering, and materials science to cancer research. Soon, Dr. Argibay was hooked. 

He earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Florida in 2011. He was hired by Sandia as a postdoctoral fellow in 2011 and transitioned to Research & Development staff in 2013. Because of his outstanding contributions to the scientific community and to Sandia’s mission, he was promoted in 2018 to Principal Member of the Technical Staff. 

As Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI, Dr. Argibay has received over $7 million of scientific grants and awards leading to groundbreaking discoveries such as the in-situ formation of diamond-like carbon on platinum-gold substrates and one of the most wear-resistant materials ever tested. With his 40 peer-reviewed publications, eight invite, plenary and keynote presentations at international conferences, and seven invited colloquia or seminars, his work has been highly recognized by the scientific community. 

Recently elected to the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE) board of directors in recognition of his many contributions to the field and his service to the society, Dr. Argibay is also a member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and AVS lnternational.

Since joining Sandia, Nic has done extensive mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. He participates in STEM outreach, coaching a middle school Science Bowl team in 2018 and helping high school students to craft experiments for a STEM outreach program in collaboration with STLE. He also volunteered as a senior design project judge for the New Mexico Institute of Technology’s Materials Science program.