||CMES: Computer Modeling in Engineering & Sciences, Vol. 53, No. 3, pp. 303-326, 2009
||Full length paper in PDF format. Size = 612,863 bytes
||Contact Mechanics, rough surfaces, mechanical instability, stick-slip, contact loss.
||The stick-slip instability is a typical manifestation of the nonlinearity of the frictional response of rough surfaces. As recently demonstrated by several researchers, the problem of contact loss is also inherently connected to the stick-slip instability and it has been detected both in elastically soft materials, such as rubber or gelatine, and in elastic stiff materials, such as for earthquake faults. Treating the problem of tangential contact in the framework of micromechanical contact models, the effect of the phenomenon of contact loss on the micro-slip behavior of rough surfaces is herein investigated. To this aim, the stick and slip components of the total applied tangential force and of the total real contact area are properly determined as functions of the total applied tangential force. A comparison with the behavior of smooth surfaces, such as spheres, cylinders and flat surfaces, is presented. Then, simulating the problem of tangential loading followed by a reduction of the applied normal force, it will be shown that the phenomenon of contact loss gives rise to energy release due to snap-back instability in the diagram relating the tangential force to the sliding displacement. This result provides for the very first time an explanation to the phenomenon of stick-slip according to the Catastrophe Theory, in close analogy with the cusp-catastrophe instability of Mode I crack propagation in cohesive solids.