Interfacial Microstructure Evolution Due to Strain Path Changes in Sliding Contacts

SJ Eder and U Cihak-Bayr and C Gachot and MR Ripoll, ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, 10, 24288-24301 (2018).

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b06894

We performed large-scale molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to study the transient softening stage that has been observed experimentally in sliding interfaces subject to strain path changes. The occurrence of this effect can be of crucial importance for the energy efficiency and wear resistance of systems that experience changes in the sliding direction, such as bearings or gears in wind parks, piston rings in combustion engines, or wheel-rail contacts for portal cranes. We therefore modeled the sliding of a rough counterbody against two polycrystalline substrates of face-centered cubic (fcc) copper and body centered cubic (bcc) iron with initial near-surface grain sizes of 40 nm. The microstructural development of these substrates was monitored and quantified as a function of time, depth, and applied pressure during unidirectional sliding for 7 ns. The results were then compared to the case of sliding in one direction for 5 ns and reversing the sliding direction for an additional 2 ns. We observed the generation of partial dislocations, grain refinement, and rotation as well as twinning (for fcc) in the near-surface region. All microstructures were increasingly affected by these processes when maintaining the sliding direction but recovered to a great extent upon sliding reversal up to applied pressures of 0.4 GPa in the case of fcc Cu and 1.S GPa for bcc Fe. We discuss the applicability and limits of our polycrystalline MD model for reproducing well-known bulk phenomena such as the Bauschinger effect in interfacial processes.

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