Pressure induced friction collapse of rare gas boundary layers sliding over metal surfaces

Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Oct 26;99(17):176101. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.99.176101. Epub 2007 Oct 24.


In this Letter we show that friction of anticorrugating systems can be dramatically decreased by applying an external load. The counterintuitive behavior that deviates from the macroscopic Amonton law is dictated by quantum mechanical effects that induce a transformation from anticorrugation to corrugation in the near-surface region. We describe the load-driven modifications occurring in the potential energy surface of different rare gas-metal adsorbate systems, namely, Ar, Kr, Xe on Cu(111), and Xe on Ag(111), and we calculate the consequent friction drop for the commensurate Xe/Cu system by means of combined ab initio and classical molecular dynamics simulations.