Precise Correlation of Contact Area and Forces in the Unstable Friction between a Rough Fluoroelastomer Surface and Borosilicate Glass

Materials (Basel). 2020 Oct 16;13(20):4615. doi: 10.3390/ma13204615.


Stick-slip friction of elastomers arises due to adhesion, high local strains, surface features, and viscous dissipation. In situ techniques connecting the real contact area to interfacial forces can reveal the contact evolution of a rough elastomer surface leading up to gross slip, as well as provide high-resolution dynamic contact areas for improving current slip models. Samples with rough surfaces were produced by the same manufacturing processes as machined seals. In this work, a machined fluoroelastomer (FKM) hemisphere was slid against glass, and the stick-slip behavior was captured optically in situ. The influence of sliding velocity on sliding behavior was studied over a range of speeds from 1 µm/s to 100 µm/s. The real contact area was measured from image sequences thresholded using Otsu's method. The motion of the pinned region was delineated with a machine learning scheme. The first result is that, within the macroscale sticking, or pinned phase, local pinned and partial slip regions were observed and modeled as a combined contact with contributions to friction by both regions. As a second result, we identified a critical velocity below which the stick-slip motion converted from high frequency with low amplitude to low frequency with high amplitude. This study on the sliding behavior of a viscoelastic machined elastomer demonstrates a multi-technique approach which reveals precise changes in contact area before and during pinning and slip.

Keywords: elastomer stick-slip; in-situ microtribometry; machined seals.