Kinetic nanofriction: a mechanism transition from quasi-continuous to ballistic-like Brownian regime

M Jafary-Zadeh and CD Reddy and V Sorkin and YW Zhang, NANOSCALE RESEARCH LETTERS, 7, 148 (2012).

DOI: 10.1186/1556-276X-7-148

Surface diffusion of mobile adsorbates is not only the key to control the rate of dynamical processes on solid surfaces, e.g. epitaxial growth, but also of fundamental importance for recent technological applications, such as nanoscale electro-mechanical, tribological, and surface probing devices. Though several possible regimes of surface diffusion have been suggested, the nanoscale surface Brownian motion, especially in the technologically important low friction regimes, remains largely unexplored. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we show for the first time, that a C-60 admolecule on a graphene substrate exhibits two distinct regimes of nanoscale Brownian motion: a quasi- continuous and a ballistic-like. A crossover between these two regimes is realized by changing the temperature of the system. We reveal that the underlying physical origin for this crossover is a mechanism transition of kinetic nanofriction arising from distinctive ways of interaction between the admolecule and the graphene substrate in these two regimes due to the temperature change. Our findings provide insight into surface mass transport and kinetic friction control at the nanoscale.

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