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Ballistic nanofriction

Abstract

Sliding parts in nanosystems such as nanoelectromechanical systems and nanomotors1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 increasingly involve large speeds, and rotations as well as translations of the moving surfaces; yet, the physics of high-speed nanoscale friction is so far unexplored. Here, by simulating the motion of drifting and of kicked Au clusters on graphite—a workhorse system of experimental relevance10,11,12,13—we demonstrate and characterize a new ‘ballistic’ friction regime at high speed, separate from drift at low speed. The temperature dependence of the cluster slip distance and time, measuring friction, is opposite in these two regimes, consistent with theory. Crucial to both regimes is the interplay of rotations and translations, shown to be correlated in slow drift but anticorrelated in fast sliding. Despite these differences, we find the velocity dependence of ballistic friction to be, like drift, viscous.

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Figure 1: Simulated gold cluster on graphite substrate.
Figure 2: Thermal diffusion of deposited Au clusters on graphite.
Figure 3: (X,Y) ballistic trajectories of a kicked cluster at different temperatures.
Figure 4: Slowdown dynamics of kicked Au clusters.
Figure 5: Time decay of kinetic energies of purely sliding and of sliding/rotating ballistic Au clusters.

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Acknowledgements

Discussions with U. Landman, G. E. Santoro, N. Manini and M. Urbakh are gratefully acknowledged. This work is part of Eurocores Projects FANAS/AFRI sponsored by the Italian Research Council (CNR), and FANAS/ACOF. It is also sponsored in part by The Italian Ministry of University and Research, through PRIN/COFIN contracts 20087NX9Y7 and 2008y2p573. A.V. acknowledges partial financial support by the Regional (Emilia Romagna) Net-Lab INTERMECH.

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Correspondence to Andrea Vanossi or Erio Tosatti.

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Guerra, R., Tartaglino, U., Vanossi, A. et al. Ballistic nanofriction. Nature Mater 9, 634–637 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat2798

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