How to Switch Off Friction In Nanomachines - Technology Review: Shake the surface (or the tip) and this immediately raises the tip out of this minimum, allowing it to explore the energy landscape. This is equivalent to smooth sliding, or at least smoother sliding. Vanossi and co study the relationship between the friction and vibrations of various different frequencies and amplitudes.
So the vibration dramatically reduces friction. In fact, it essentially allows friction to be switched on and off.
But Vanossi and co have another interesting result. They say that once the oscillations have overcome stick-slip friction, they can help to maintain motion. In effect, the tip can ride the oscillations, like a surfer rides ocean waves.