Short-time Dynamics of Frictional Strength in Dry Friction

O. Ben-David, G. Cohen and J. Fineberg

The Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat Ram, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.



We present an experimental study of the onset of local frictional motion along a long, spatially extended interface that separates two PMMA blocks in dry frictional contact. At applied shear forces significantly below the static friction threshold, rapid precursory detachment fronts are excited, which propagate at near sound speeds along the interface. These fronts initiate from the interface edge and arrest prior to traversing the entire sample length. Along the frontsí path, we perform real-time measurements of the real contact area at every spatial point within the interface. In addition, the motion (slip) of the material adjacent to the interface is simultaneously measured at chosen locations. Upon their arrival at each spatial point along their path, these fronts instantaneously (within 4msec) reduce the net contact area. Net slip is only initiated after this contact area reduction occurs.Slip is initially rapid and progresses at its initial velocity for a constant (60msec) duration. Slip dynamics then undergo a sharp transition to velocities an order of magnitude slower, which remain nearly constant until slip arrest. We demonstrate that this scenario can be quantitatively explained by a model of interface weakening caused by instantaneous fracture-induced heating. Sustained rapid slip occurs in this weakened phase. Once the interface cools beneath its glass temperature the sharp transition to slow slip takes place. A similar fracture-induced weakening scenario might be expected in additional classes of materials.

Key words: Contact Mechanics, Friction Mechanisms, Static Friction, Stick-Slip, Unlubricated Friction, Polymers (solid), fracture induced weakening