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The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Malaysia

Research project: A numerical method for simultaneous prediction of wear and friction along nano-scale dry asperity contact (n-SIMPAC)

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Funded by Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) 2013/Phase 1, Ministry of Education, Malaysia

Engineering surfaces exhibit multi-scale natured roughness, leading to interfacial interactions governed by various competing kinetics, each operating at different length scales. In order to reduce friction, surfaces are modified through texturing and patterning. As a consequence to friction reduction, large features are introduced to the surface, further emphasizing the multi-scale nature contact problem between sliding rough surfaces. Typical friction models for sliding rough surfaces usually neglect material wear, which will lead to inaccuracy in the friction prediction. Material ploughing and wear will influence the loading capacity and the friction force during sliding. As a result of this, the surface topography along the contact will be altered, which is usually neglected in typical existing friction models.

As the first approximation to better fundamentally understand and better predict the friction along sliding rough surfaces, the study proposes a theoretical model for dry single-asperity pair interaction to simultaneously predict friction and wear during sliding. The numerical model will be used to simulate a silicon nitride Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) tip, sliding on an atomically smooth surface. A comparison will be conducted between predicted and measured friction as a validation for the proposed numerical model. This can be used for applications at various length scales ranging from Nanoelectromechanical Systems (NEMS) to Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS). With proper adaptation to a multi-scaled rough surface contact, the model can even be used to predict friction in automotive applications such as piston ring/liner and cam-tappet contact.

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