Tribology Letters

, 66:20 | Cite as

Size of the Plastic Zone Produced by Nanoscratching

  • Iyad Alabd Alhafez
  • Carlos J. Ruestes
  • Herbert M. Urbassek
Original Paper


Nanoscratching of ductile materials creates plastic zones surrounding the scratch groove. We approximate the geometry of these zones by a semicylinder with its axis oriented along the scratch direction. The radius and the length of the cylinder, as well as the length of the dislocations in the network created quantify the plasticity generated. Using molecular dynamics simulations, we characterize the plastic zones in six metals with fcc, bcc, and hcp crystal structures. We find that the plastic zone sizes after scratch are comparable to those after indent. Due to dislocation reactions, the dislocation networks simplify, reducing the total length of dislocations. As a consequence, the average dislocation density in the plastic zone stays roughly constant. Individually, we find exceptions from this simple picture. Fcc metals show strong plastic activity, which even increases during scratch. The hcp metals on the other side show the least plastic activity. Here the plasticity may be strongly reduced during scratch and particularly during tip withdrawal.


Molecular dynamics Nanoindentation Scratching Dislocations Plasticity 



IAA and HMU acknowledge support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft via the Sonderforschungsbereich 926. CJR acknowledges support by ANPCyT PICT-2015-0342, SECTyP-UNCuyo, a donation by the Nvidia Corporation, and computational resources at Mendieta-CCAD-UNC through MinCyT-PDC-SNCAD.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physics Department and Research Center OPTIMASUniversity KaiserslauternKaiserslauternGermany
  2. 2.CONICET and Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de CuyoMendozaArgentina

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