Wang, J., Shrotriya, P. & Kim, K. Exp Mech (2006) 46: 39. doi:10.1007/s11340-006-5864-3
Surface roughness plays an important role in the delamination wear caused by rough surface contact. A recent dislocation model analysis predicts that nano-scale contacts of surface steps induce nucleation of dislocations leading to pro-load and anti-load dislocation segregation near the contact surface. Such dislocation segregation generates a sub-layer of tensile residual stress in a much thicker layer of compressive residual stress near the surface. The tensile sub-layer thickness is expected to be about 50 to 100 times the step height. In order to verify the predictions of the model analysis, contact experiments are carried out on polycrystalline aluminum surface to determine the existence of the tensile sub-layer. The variation of the residual stress along the thickness direction is measured using a newly developed high sensitivity curvature-measurement interferometer. The residual stress distribution measured with sub-nanometer spatial resolution indicates that contact loading leads to formation of a highly stressed sub-layer of tensile residual stress within a much thicker layer of compressive residual stress. Implications of tensile residual stress for delamination wear are discussed.