Probing the surface profile and friction behavior of heterogeneous polymers: a molecular dynamics study
L Dai and V Sorkin and YW Zhang, MODELLING AND SIMULATION IN MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING, 25, 035003 (2017).
We perform molecular dynamics simulations to investigate molecular structure alternation and friction behavior of heterogeneous polymer (perfluoropolyether) surfaces using a nanoscale probing tip (tetrahedral amorphous carbon). It is found that depending on the magnitude of the applied normal force, three regimes exist: the shallow depth-sensing (SDS), deep depth-sensing (DDS), and transitional depth-sensing (TDS) regimes; TDS is between SDS and DDS. In SDS, the tip is floating on the polymer surface and there is insignificant permanent alternation in the polymer structure due to largely recoverable atomic deformations, and the surface roughness profile can be accurately measured. In DDS, the tip is plowing through the polymer surface and there is significant permanent alternation in the molecular structure. In this regime, the lateral friction force rises sharply and fluctuates violently when overcoming surface pile-ups. In SDS, the friction can be described by a modified Amonton's law including the adhesion effect; meanwhile, in DDS, the adhesion effect is negligible but the friction coefficient is significantly higher. The underlying reason for the difference in these regimes rests upon different contributions by the repulsion and attraction forces between the tip and polymer surfaces to the friction force. Our findings here reveal important insights into lateral depth- sensing on heterogeneous polymer surfaces and may help improve the precision of depth-sensing devices.
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