Studies of frictional sliding contact by molecular dynamics assisted continuum mechanics

M Motezaker and SP Xiao and AR Khoei and JA Zakeri, MECHANICS OF ADVANCED MATERIALS AND STRUCTURES (2022).

DOI: 10.1080/15376494.2022.2137885

Lubricants are usually utilized to decrease wear, reduce friction, and release heat. Although the lubrication approximation originated from thin-film studies, it has limitations because of continuum mechanics assumptions. To overcome these limitations, for the first time, this article employs a hierarchical multiscale approach to study the frictional sliding contact considering elastohydrodynamic lubrication. This multiscale model consists of a molecular model of lubricant and a continuum model of sliding contact components. Specifically, the molecular dynamics method is used at the nanoscale to model the lubricant and analyze the friction coefficient in contacted surfaces. Through MD simulation, the effects of hydrocarbon chain lengths, temperature, and sliding velocity on a constant friction coefficient are studied in this article. The calculated friction coefficients from the molecular model are passed to the continuum model, in which the finite element method is employed to conduct stress and strain analysis of the sliding contact components. Although variations in the frictional sliding response are invariably coupled with the friction coefficients, the molecular-to-continuum hierarchical approach enables us to isolate the relative contributions from the chemical formulation of the lubricant and the temperature. This approach has further potential implications for the evaluation of tribological damage. The results demonstrate that an increase in temperature or the chain length of lubricant hydrocarbon molecules can significantly decrease the friction coefficient and, as a result, reduce contact shear stress, plastic deformation, and pile-up height.

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