Tribology Letters

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 257–263 | Cite as

Wear of a single asperity using Lateral Force Microscopy



This report describes an observation of alternating transitions between linear (Amontons) and non-linear friction-load behavior during Lateral Force Microscope experiments using a silicon tip sliding on a quartz surface. Initially, a transition from linear to non-linear behavior was attributed to nanoscale ‘running-in’ of the tip to form a single contact junction at the interface. Once this had occurred, a non-linear relationship between friction and applied load was observed during a number of loading and unloading cycles. For higher compressive loads, a further transition to a more linear friction-load behavior was attributed to nanoscale wear in the contact zone. Notably, when applied load was reduced below this ‘high-load’ transition point, the same non-linear friction-load behavior was again observed, but with a larger (friction per load) magnitude than seen previously. This cycle was repeated five times in these experiments, and each time, switching between non-linear and linear friction-load behavior occurred, along with a progressive increase in friction (per load) each time load was reduced below the transition point. The progressive increase in friction is attributed to an increased area of contact, caused by nanoscale wear at higher applied loads. An increase in tip size was confirmed by tip profiling before and after experiment. By progressively wearing the asperity at higher loads, the (interfacial or true) contact area, A, between the surfaces could be progressively increased, and as a result, a progressive increase in interfacial sliding friction, F f , was obtained at lower loads (according to F f  = τA).


lateral (friction) force microscope friction and wear Amontons laws contact mechanics 



MGR is grateful for the receipt of a University of Newcastle Postgraduate Research Scholarship (UNRS External).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • M.G. Reitsma
    • 1
    • 3
  • R.G. Cain
    • 1
  • S. Biggs
    • 2
  • D.W. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EngineeringThe University of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Particle Science and EngineeringThe University of LeedsLeedsUK
  3. 3.Materials Science and Engineering LaboratoryNational Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA

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