Stick-slip nanofriction in trapped cold ion chains

D. Mandelli, A. Vanossi, E. Tosatti
2013 Physical Review B  
Stick-slip -- the sequence of mechanical instabilities through which a slider advances on a solid substrate -- is pervasive throughout sliding friction, from nano to geological scales. Here we suggest that trapped cold ions in an optical lattice can also be of help in understanding stick-slip friction, and also the way friction changes when one of the sliders undergoes structural transitions. For that scope, we simulated the dynamical properties of a 101-ions chain, driven to slide back and
more » ... slide back and forth by a slowly oscillating electric field in an incommensurate periodic "corrugation" potential of increasing magnitude U0. We found the chain sliding to switch, as U0 increases and before the Aubry transition, from a smooth-sliding regime with low dissipation to a stick-slip regime with high dissipation. In the stick-slip regime the onset of overall sliding is preceded by precursor events consisting of partial slips of few ions only, leading to partial depinning of the chain, a nutshell remnant of precursor events at the onset of motion also observed in macroscopic sliders. Seeking to identify the possible effects on friction of a structural transition, we reduced the trapping potential aspect ratio until the ion chain shape turned from linear to zigzag. Dynamic friction was found to rise at the transition, reflecting the opening of newer dissipation channels.
doi:10.1103/physrevb.87.195418 fatcat:lu76xlnjhvfabadgl4m2k4iiea