Adhesion and Friction Force Measurements Using an Optical Micro-Apparatus

  • 375 Accesses

  • 2 Citations


An optical micro-apparatus was designed and developed to visualize and measure adhesion and friction forces for a steel ball in contact with a sapphire window. The apparatus allows for in situ optical investigation of the contact interface during the initiation, separation and simultaneous measurement of the normal force generated within the contact. A high precision z-stage was utilized to move the steel ball at low velocities (0.1 μm/s) to bring it into contact with the fixed sapphire window. In this study, the adhesion force between a 1–mm-diameter steel ball and sapphire window was measured and visualized when the surfaces approach and retract from each other. The experimental results demonstrated the presence of the adhesion force and stick area during the retraction of the contacting surfaces. The optical micro-apparatus is also equipped with a piezoelectric actuator to reciprocate the ball against the sapphire window to conduct sliding friction experiments at various normal loads. In this investigation, a new optical technique was also developed to measure the tangential displacement of the contacting interfaces during sliding friction tests. In this technique, the video of the contacting bodies during sliding friction cycle was processed to trace the center of the contact area and, consequently, measure the relative tangential displacement of the contact. The friction loops obtained using the measured tangential displacement exhibited a rectangular shape thus eliminating the system stiffness commonly observed in friction loop studies. The vertical and horizontal segments of the rectangular friction loops characterize the stick and slip regions of the contact, respectively.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 199

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12


  1. 1.

    Maboudian, R., Howe, R.T.: Critical review: adhesion in surface micromechanical structures. J. Vac. Sci. Technol. B 15, 1–20 (1997)

  2. 2.

    Bhushan, B.: Introduction to Tribology, 2nd edn. Wiley, New York (2013)

  3. 3.

    Johnson, K.L., Kendall, K., Roberts, A.D.: Surface energy and the contact of elastic solids. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. Ser. A 324, 301–313 (1971)

  4. 4.

    Muller, V.M., Derjaguin, B.V., Toporov, Y.P.: On two methods of calculation of the force of sticking of an elastic sphere to a rigid plane. Colloids Surf. 7, 251–259 (1983)

  5. 5.

    Adams, G.G.: Stick, partial slip and sliding in the plane strain micro contact of two elastic bodies. R. Soc. Open Sci. 1, 140363 (2014)

  6. 6.

    Gnecco, E., Meyer, E.: Fundamentals of Friction and Wear on the Nanoscale. Springer, Berlin (2007)

  7. 7.

    Bowden, F.P., Tabor, D.: The Friction and Lubrication of Solids. Oxford University Press, Oxford (1964)

  8. 8.

    Holm, R.: Electric Contacts Handbook. Springer, Berlin (1958)

  9. 9.

    Diaconescu, E., Glovnea, M.: Visualization and measurement of contact area by reflectivity. ASME. J. Tribol. 128, 915–917 (2006)

  10. 10.

    Ovcharenko, A., Halperin, G., Etsion, I., Varenberg, M.: A novel test rig for in situ and real time optical measurement of the contact area evolution during pre-sliding of a spherical contact. Tribol. Lett. 23, 55–63 (2006)

  11. 11.

    Krick, B.A., Vail, J.R., Persson, B.N., Sawyer, W.G.: Optical in situ micro tribometer for analysis of real contact area for contact mechanics, adhesion, and sliding experiments. Tribol. Lett. 45, 185–194 (2012)

  12. 12.

    Alazemi, A.A., Ghosh, A., Sadeghi, F., Stacke, L.-E.: Experimental investigation of the correlation between adhesion and friction forces. Tribol. Lett. 62, 1–12 (2016)

  13. 13.

    Mortensen, K.I., Churchman, L.S., Spudich, J.A., Flyvbjerg, H.: Optimized localization analysis for single-molecule tracking and super-resolution microscopy. Nat. Methods 7, 377–381 (2010)

  14. 14.

    Shi, X., Polycarpou, A.A.: Measurement and modeling of normal contact stiffness and contact damping at the meso scale. ASME. J. Vib. Acoust. 127, 52–60 (2005)

  15. 15.

    Ramalho, A., Celis, J.-P.: Fretting laboratory tests: analysis of the mechanical response of test rigs. Tribol. Lett. 14, 187–196 (2003)

  16. 16.

    Leonard, B.D., Sadeghi, F., Shinde, S., Mittelbach, M.: A novel modular fretting wear test rig. Wear 274, 313–325 (2012)

  17. 17.

    Hills, D.A., Nowell, D.: Mechanics of Fretting Fatigue. Kluwer, Dordrecht (1994)

  18. 18.

    Mindlin, R.D.: Compliance of elastic bodies in contact. J. Appl. Mech. 16, 259–268 (1949)

  19. 19.

    Eriten, M., Polycarpou, A., Bergman, L.: Physics-based modeling for partial slip behavior of spherical contacts. Int. J. Solids Struct. 47, 2554–2567 (2010)

Download references


The authors would like to express their deepest appreciations to the SKF Company for their support of this project.

Author information

Correspondence to Farshid Sadeghi.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (AVI 301672 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (AVI 268412 kb)

Supplementary material 1 (AVI 301672 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (AVI 268412 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Alazemi, A.A., Sadeghi, F. & Stacke, L. Adhesion and Friction Force Measurements Using an Optical Micro-Apparatus. Tribol Lett 64, 49 (2016) doi:10.1007/s11249-016-0781-9

Download citation


  • Adhesion
  • Friction
  • Contact area
  • In situ
  • Sphere-on-flat contact