Adhesive wear mechanisms in the presence of weak interfaces: Insights from an amorphous model system

Engineering wear models are generally empirical and lack connections to the physical processes of debris generation at the nanoscale to microscale. Here, we thus analyze wear particle formation for sliding interfaces in dry contact with full and reduced adhesion. Depending on the material and interface properties and the local slopes of the surfaces, we find that colliding surface asperities can either deform plastically, form wear particles, or slip along the contact junction surface without significant damage. We propose a mechanism map as a function of material properties and local geometry, and confirm it using quasi-two-dimensional and three-dimensional molecular dynamics and finite-element simulations on an amorphous, siliconlike model material. The framework developed in the present paper conceptually ties the regimes of weak and strong interfacial adhesion together and can explain that even unlubricated sliding contacts do not necessarily lead to catastrophic wear rates. A salient result of the present paper is an analytical expression of a critical length scale, which incorporates interface properties and roughness parameters. Therefore, our findings provide a theoretical framework and a quantitative map to predict deformation mechanisms at individual contacts. In particular, contact junctions of sizes above the critical length scale contribute to the debris formation.

Published in:
Physical Review Materials, 3, 5, 053604
May 10 2019
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 Record created 2019-05-10, last modified 2020-10-24

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