Volume 61, Number 2, January 2003
|Page(s)||268 - 274|
|Section||Interdisciplinary physics and related areas of science and technology|
|Published online||01 January 2003|
Thermally activated lubrication with alkanes: The effect of chain length
Laboratoire de Physique Statistique de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure associée au CNRS et aux universités Paris VI et Paris VII 24, rue Lhomond, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France
2 Tribology Research Institute, Southwest Jiaotong University Chengdu 610031, Sichuan Province, PRC
Accepted: 29 October 2002
Friction forces measurements between smooth surfaces across two layers of linear alkanes over five decades of speeds are presented. A maximum friction dissipation is observed at a characteristic speed. This behaviour is described by a new approach: the formation and destruction of molecular bridges between confined alkane layers. These bridges which interdigitate between the layers exhibit a thermally activated resistance to shear. An analytical model involving activation barriers accounts for the overall behaviour of the speed dependence of the forces over four decades. This first simple semi-quantitative description sheds new light on the subtle mechanisms of friction at the nanoscale level and shows how the molecular length influences the tribological properties of the liquid.
PACS: 81.40.Pq – Friction, lubrication and wear / 68.35.Af – Atomic scale friction / 46.55.+d – Tribology and mechanical contacts
© EDP Sciences, 2003
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