is it possible to maintain a level of force that is so small that there would never be enough force to dislodge any particles
This is SUCH a good question! Answer: yes, and no.
Hard materials, by normal material-properties analysis, are not susceptible to
attack with small forces (below the stress that would fracture a hard material
there is expected to be no loss of integrity).
What REALLY happens, is more complicated.
First exception: A polishing compound is too soft
to abrade steel, but if you apply it, the compound comes away black, loaded with iron-containing oxides. That is
because steel has an oxide layer, sometimes transparent, which is softer than the metal. The polish contains abrasive particles which fracture before they scratch the metal, but which might abrade the softer oxide.
Chemical degradation of the steel surface (oxidation) will proceed after the
top layer is polished away, at the fresh exposed surface. The combination of physical stress and chemical (oxidation) attack does 'wear' the hard material.
Second exception: a steel wire, under tension, can slowly (over months)
stretch even at low force. This is called 'creep'. Temperature determines
the hardness of a material; local parts of the material may be at
almost ANY temperature (there are random local fluctuations, because
thermal motions are necessarily random). With continued force,
a slow flow occurs, even if the nominal yield strength does not allow it.
Creep in steel is also associated with nitrogen content (a few atoms of
nitrogen can destabilize the strength of strained regions), so
music wire (piano wire) is made of low-nitrogen steel.
Third exception: no material is completely pure, and even if it were,
cosmic rays or radioactive decay can penetrate and leave damage. Dating of some
crystalline minerals, and fired ceramics, is done by noting these
damage tracks. That means that the material hardness, while accurate
for large samples, is variable internally.
So, a hard material can be attacked chemically, or can recrystallize
under stress, or can stop a cosmic ray and take damage in the absence
of ANY applied force. A variety of external circumstances other than
simple application of force is unavoidable.
could there be some kind of nano-technology that would be able to reinforce the molecular bonds in a material, making it self-healing and actively applying force between the bonds to keep the material together
Sure. Broken bones heal. A kind of wood finish, rubbed oil, can 'heal' after taking a dent. Galvanized
iron maintains a zinc layer by a kind of electrochemical healing. Halogen lamp filaments chemically deposit
fresh metal over any hot spots (which makes them more durable).