Static friction between rigid fractal surfaces

21 September 2015

Using spheropolygon-based simulations and contact slope analysis, we investigate the effects of surface topography and atomic scale friction on the macroscopically observed friction between rigid blocks with fractal surface structures. From our mathematical derivation, the angle of macroscopic friction is the result of the sum of the angle of atomic friction and the slope angle between the contact surfaces. The latter is obtained from the determination of all possible contact slopes between the two surface profiles through an alternative signature function. Our theory is validated through numerical simulations of spheropolygons with fractal Koch surfaces and is applied to the description of frictional properties of Weierstrass-Mandelbrot surfaces. The agreement between simulations and theory suggests that for interpreting macroscopic frictional behavior, the descriptors of surface morphology should be defined from the signature function rather than from the slopes of the contacting surfaces.