### Abstract

We consider the dynamical properties of boundary lubrication in contact between two atomically smooth solid surfaces separated by an ultrathin layer of lubricant. In contrast to previous works on this topic, we explicitly consider the heterogeneity of tangential stresses, which arises in a contact of elastic bodies that are moved tangentially relative to each other. To describe phase transitions between structural states of the lubricant we use an approach based on the field theory of phase transitions. It is assumed that the lubricant layer, when stressed, can undergo a shear-melting transition of first or second order. While solutions for the homogeneous system can be easily obtained analytically, the kinetics of the phase transitions in the spatially heterogeneous system can only be studied numerically. In our numerical experiments melting of the lubricant layer starts from the outer boundary of contact and propagates to its center. The melting wave is followed by a wave of solidification. This process repeats itself periodically, following the stick-slip pattern that is characteristic of such systems. Depending on the thermodynamic and kinetic parameters of the model, different modes of sliding with almost complete or only partial intermediate solidification are possible.

Original language | English |
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Article number | 053002 |

Journal | Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics |

Volume | 94 |

Issue number | 5 |

DOIs | |

Publication status | Published - 10 Nov 2016 |

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### ASJC Scopus subject areas

- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Statistics and Probability
- Condensed Matter Physics

### Cite this

*Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics*,

*94*(5), [053002]. https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.94.053002