Molecular Dynamics Simulation Study of Mechanical Effects of Lubrication on a Nanoscale Contact Process


Using molecular dynamics simulation, we study the effect of a lubricant on indentation and scratching of a Fe surface. By comparing a dry reference case with two lubricated contacts—differing in the adsorption strength of the lubricant—the effects of the lubricant can be identified. We find that after an initial phase, in which the lubricant is squeezed out of the contact zone, the contact between the indenter and the substrate is essentially dry. The number of lubricant molecules confined in the tip-substrate gap increases with the lubricant adsorption energy. Trapped lubricant broadens the tip area active in the scratching process—mainly on the flanks of the groove—compared to a dry reference case. This leads to a slight increase in chip height and volume, and also contributes to the scratching forces.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support by the DFG within IRTG 2057 Physical Modeling for Virtual Manufacturing Systems and Processes and CRC 926 Microscale Morphology of Component Surfaces. The simulations were carried out on the HAZELHEN at High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS), on the ELWE at Regional University Computing Center Kaiserslautern (RHRK) under the grant TUKL-TLMV as well as on the SUPERMUC at Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) Garching within the computing project SPARLAMPE (pr48te). The present research was conducted under the auspices of the Boltzmann-Zuse Society of Computational Molecular Engineering (BZS).

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Stephan, S., Lautenschlaeger, M.P., Alhafez, I.A. et al. Molecular Dynamics Simulation Study of Mechanical Effects of Lubrication on a Nanoscale Contact Process. Tribol Lett 66, 126 (2018).

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  • Nanoindentation
  • Lubrication
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Single asperity contact
  • Squeeze-out