Integrating experimental and simulation length and time scales in mechanistic studies of friction

W. G. Sawyer, S. S. Perry, S. R. Phillpot, S. B. Sinnott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Friction is ubiquitous in all aspects of everyday life and has consequently been under study for centuries. Classical theories of friction have been developed and used to successfully solve numerous tribological problems. However, modern applications that involve advanced materials operating under extreme environments can lead to situations where classical theories of friction are insufficient to describe the physical responses of sliding interfaces. Here, we review integrated experimental and computational studies of atomic-scale friction and wear at solid-solid interfaces across length and time scales. The influence of structural orientation in the case of carbon nanotube bundles, and molecular orientation in the case of polymer films of polytetrafluoroethylene and polyethylene, on friction and wear are discussed. In addition, while friction in solids is generally considered to be athermal, under certain conditions thermally activated friction is observed for polymers, carbon nanotubes and graphite. The conditions under which these transitions occur, and their proposed origins, are discussed. Lastly, a discussion of future directions is presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number354012
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 3 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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