Thermal effects on atomic friction

Phys Rev Lett. 2001 Oct 22;87(17):174301. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.87.174301. Epub 2001 Oct 8.


We model friction acting on the tip of an atomic force microscope as it is dragged across a surface at nonzero temperatures. We find that stick-slip motion occurs and that the average frictional force follows (absolute value lnv)(2/3), where v is the tip velocity. This compares well to recent experimental work, permitting the quantitative extraction of all microscopic parameters. We calculate the scaled form of the average frictional force's dependence on both temperature and tip speed as well as the form of the friction-force distribution function.