Molecular Dynamics Simulations on the Frictional Behavior of a Perfluoropolyether Film Sandwiched between Diamond-like-Carbon Coatings

L Dai and V Sorkin and ZD Sha and QX Pei and PS Branicio and YW Zhang, LANGMUIR, 30, 1573-1579 (2014).

DOI: 10.1021/la404680v

We perform molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the nanoscale frictional behavior of a perfluorpolyether (PFPE) film sandwiched between two diamondlike-carbon (DLC) coatings. We show that the PFPE films behave like a solid and can perform either a motion-station movement or a continuous motion with fluctuating velocities. The former movement is caused by the alternating stick and slip at the two individual interfaces, while the latter is due to the dynamic sliding motions simultaneously occurring at both interfaces. We reveal that these motion characteristics are governed by the competition between the two interfacial adhesion energies, which are strongly affected by the thermal vibrations and interface roughness fluctuations. We also find that the Amonton's law modified by incorporating the adhesion effect can be used to describe the mean friction traction vs normal pressure relation, but large fluctuations are present at low contact pressures. The magnitude of atomic level friction forces at the interface is found to be highly nonuniform. The directions of atomic level friction forces can even be opposite. With increasing the normal pressure, the nonuniformity of atomic level friction forces decreases first and then increases again. This change can be explained by the concurrent effects from the large difference in material stiffness and the changes in surface roughness under normal pressure. The present work reveals interesting insights into the sliding mechanisms in sandwiched structures and provides useful guidelines for the design of nanoscale lubricant systems.

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