Friction-induced subsurface densification of glass at contact stress far below indentation damage threshold

Hongtu He, Seung Ho Hahn, Jiaxin Yu, Qian Qiao, Adri C.T. van Duin, Seong H. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


It is well known that the densification of oxide glass can occur at high contact pressure (typically >5 GPa) under normal indentation conditions. This study reports that when frictional shear is involved, the subsurface densification of glass can occur under low load conditions that would involve completely elastic deformation if the load is applied along the surface normal direction without any interfacial shear. This phenomenon was observed for a borosilicate glass rubbed with a smooth stainless-steel ball in liquid water at a nominal Hertzian contact pressure of ≤0.5 GPa. Under these frictional conditions, subsurface cracking is completely suppressed, and surface wear occurs through mechanochemical reactions. Since the mechanochemical wear track was sufficiently smooth, it was possible to employ a sub-glass transition temperature (sub-Tg) annealing method to measure the volume recovery of the densified subsurface region. The friction-induced subsurface densification of the wear track was also confirmed through nanoindentation measurements and dissolution tests in pH 13 aqueous solutions. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations with a ReaxFF reactive force also suggested that the subsurface structural change can occur readily when friction is involved at low contact pressure conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-173
Number of pages8
JournalActa Materialia
StatePublished - May 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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