Europhys. Lett.
Volume 66, Number 1, April 2004
Page(s) 97 - 103
Section Condensed matter: structure, mechanical and thermal properties
Published online 01 March 2004
Europhys. Lett., 66 (1) , pp. 97-103 (2004)
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2003-10139-6

Structural lubricity: Role of dimension and symmetry

M. H. Müser

Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Western Ontario London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5B7

(Received 25 November 2003; accepted 22 January 2004)

When two chemically passivated solids are brought into contact, interfacial interactions between the solids compete with intrabulk elastic forces. The relative strength of these interactions, which are length scale dependent, will be estimated using scaling arguments. Whenever elastic interactions dominate on all length scales, solids will move as essentially rigid objects. This would imply superlow kinetic friction in UHV, provided wear was absent. The results of the scaling study depend on the symmetry of the surfaces and the dimensionalities of interface and solids. Some examples are discussed explicitly such as contacts between disordered three-dimensional solids and linear bearings realized from multiwall carbon nanotubes.

68.35.Af - Atomic scale friction.
81.40.Pq - Friction, lubrication, and wear.

© EDP Sciences 2004