Atomically Informed Continuum Models for the Elastic Contact Properties of Hollow and Coated Rigid Cylinders at the Nanoscale
L Gorelik and D Mordehai, JOURNAL OF APPLIED MECHANICS-TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASME, 84, 031009 (2017).
Understanding the mechanical properties of contacts at the nanoscale is key to controlling the strength of coated surfaces. In this work, we explore to which extent existing continuum models describing elastic contacts with coated surfaces can be extended to the nanoscale. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of hollow cylinders or coated rigid cylinders under compression are performed and compared with models at the continuum level, as two representative extreme cases of coating which is substantially harder or softer than the substrate, respectively. We show here that the geometry of the atomic-scale contact is essential to capture the contact stiffness, especially for hollow cylinders with high relative thicknesses and for coated rigid cylinders. The contact pressure profiles in atomic-scale contacts are substantially different than the one proposed in the continuum models for rounded contacts. On the basis of these results, we formulate models whose solution can be computed analytically for the contact stiffness in the two extreme cases, and show how to bridge between the atomic and continuum scales with atomically informed geometry of the contact.
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