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Phys Rev Lett. 2001 Feb 12;86(7):1295-8.

Simple microscopic theory of Amontons's laws for static friction.

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1
Institut fur Physik. WA 331, Johannes Gutenberg Universitat, 55099 Mainz, Germany.

Abstract

A microscopic theory for the ubiquitous phenomenon of static friction is presented. Interactions between two surfaces are modeled by an energy penalty that increases exponentially with the degree of surface overlap. The resulting static friction is proportional to load, in accordance with Amontons's laws. However, the friction coefficient between bare surfaces vanishes as the area of individual contacts grows, except in the rare case of commensurate surfaces. An area independent friction coefficient is obtained for any surface geometry when an adsorbed layer of mobile atoms is introduced between the surfaces. The predictions from our simple analytic model are confirmed by detailed molecular dynamics simulations.

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