Nanoscale Simulations of Wear and Viscoelasticity of a Semi-Crystalline Polymer
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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We investigate the underlying tribological mechanisms and running-in process of a semi-crystalline polymer using molecular-dynamics simulations. We subject a slab of simulated polyvinyl alcohol to a sliding contact asperity resembling a friction force microscope tip. We study the viscoelastic response of the polymer to the sliding and show both plastic and elastic contributions to the deformation, with their relative strength dependent on the temperature. As expected, the elastic deformation penetrates deeper into the surface than the plastic deformation. Directly under the tip, the polymer has a tendency to co-axially align and form a layered structure. Over time, the plastic deformation on and near the surface builds up, the friction decreases, and the polymers in the top layer align with each other in the sliding direction (conditioning).