Origin of Stick-Slip Motion in Boundary Lubrication

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Science  09 Nov 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4982, pp. 792-794
DOI: 10.1126/science.250.4982.792


Molecular dynamics simulations of atomically thin, fluid films confined between two solid plates are described. For a broad range of parameters, a generic stick-slip motion is observed, consistent with the results of recent boundary lubrication experiments. Static plates induce crystalline order in the film. Stick-slip motion involves periodic shear-melting transitions and recrystllization of the film. Uniform motion occurs at high velocities where the film no longer has time to order. These results indicate that the origin of stick-slip motion is thermodynamic instability of the sliding state, rather than a dynamic instability as usually assumed.

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