Friction on incommensurate substrates: Role of anharmonicity and defects

S Amiri and CA Volkert and RLC Vink, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 104, 014802 (2021).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.104.014802

We present molecular dynamics simulations of one- and two-dimensional bead-spring models sliding on incommensurate substrates after an initial kick, in the case where the coupling to the underlying substrate is weak, i.e., energy can dissipate only into the internal degrees of freedom of the sliding object, but not into the substrate below. We investigate how sliding friction is affected by structural defects and interaction anharmonicity. In their absence, we confirm earlier findings, namely, that at special resonance sliding velocities, friction is maximal. When sliding off-resonance, partially thermalized states are possible, whereby only a small number of vibrational modes becomes excited, but whose kinetic energies are already Maxwell-Boltzmann distributed. Anharmonicity and defects typically destroy partial thermalization and instead lead to full thermalization, implying much higher friction. For sliders with periodic boundaries, thermalization begins with vibrational modes whose spatial modulation is compatible with the incommensurate lattice. For a disk-shaped slider, modes corresponding to modulations compatible with the slider radius are initially the most dominant. By tuning the mechanical properties of the slider's edge, this effect can be controlled, resulting in significant changes in the sliding distance covered.

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