S. Z. Wattel, J.-F. Molinari

A story of two transitions: From adhesive to abrasive wear and from ductile to brittle regime

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • General Physics and Astronomy

Atomistic simulations performed with a family of model potential with tunable hardness have proven to be a great tool for advancing the understanding of wear processes at the asperity level. They have been instrumental in finding a critical length scale, which governs the ductile to brittle transition in adhesive wear, and further helped in the understanding of the relation between tangential work and wear rate or how self-affine surfaces emerge in three-body wear. However, so far, the studies were mostly limited to adhesive wear processes where the two surfaces in contact are composed of the same material. Here, we propose to study the transition from adhesive to abrasive wear by introducing a contrast of hardness between the contacting surfaces. Two wear processes emerge: one by gradual accretion of the third body by detachment of chips from both surfaces and the other being a more erratic mixed process involving large deformation of the third body and removal of large pieces from the soft surface. The critical length scale was found to be a good predictor of the ductile to brittle transition between both processes. Furthermore, the wear coefficients and wear ratios of soft and hard surfaces were found to be consistent with experimental observations. The wear particle is composed of many concentric layers, an onion-like structure, resulting from the gradual accretion of matter from both surfaces. The distribution of sizes of these layers was studied, and it appears that the cumulative distribution of hard surface’s chip sizes follows a power law.

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