Non-equilibrium phase behavior and friction of confined molecular films under shear: A non-equilibrium molecular dynamics study

S Mackowiak and DM Heyes and D Dini and AC Branka, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 145, 164704 (2016).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4965829

The phase behavior of a confined liquid at high pressure and shear rate, such as is found in elastohydrodynamic lubrication, can influence the traction characteristics in machine operation. Generic aspects of this behavior are investigated here using Non-equilibrium Molecular Dynamics (NEMD) simulations of confined Lennard-Jones (LJ) films under load with a recently proposed wall-driven shearing method without wall atom tethering C. Gattinoni et al., Phys. Rev. E 90, 043302 (2014). The focus is on thick films in which the nonequilibrium phases formed in the confined region impact on the traction properties. The nonequilibrium phase and tribological diagrams are mapped out in detail as a function of load, wall sliding speed, and atomic scale surface roughness, which is shown can have a significant effect. The transition between these phases is typically not sharp as the external conditions are varied. The magnitude of the friction coefficient depends strongly on the nonequilibrium phase adopted by the confined region of molecules, and in general does not follow the classical friction relations between macroscopic bodies, e.g., the frictional force can decrease with increasing load in the Plug-Slip (PS) region of the phase diagram owing to structural changes induced in the confined film. The friction coefficient can be extremely low (similar to 0.01) in the PS region as a result of incommensurate alignment between a (100) face-centered cubic wall plane and reconstructed (111) layers of the confined region near the wall. It is possible to exploit hysteresis to retain low friction PS states well into the central localization high wall speed region of the phase diagram. Stick-slip behavior due to periodic in-plane melting of layers in the confined region and subsequent annealing is observed at low wall speeds and moderate external loads. At intermediate wall speeds and pressure values (at least) the friction coefficient decreases with increasing well depth of the LJ potential between the wall atoms, but increases when the attractive part of the potential between wall atoms and confined molecules is made larger. Published by AIP Publishing.

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