Mechanics and Physics of Contact Interfaces

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Perspective Research

My research program for the following years will be focused mainly on the topics which were initiated in recent years. Below, these topics are summarized with some details on concrete research questions and applications.

Physics and mechanics of contact at the roughness scale. Along this line of my research I plan to focus on the study of (1) heat transfer through contact interfaces (PhD project of P. Beguin 2020-2023) and (2) statistical properties of various characteristics: pressure, gap, fluid-pressure-terrace formation and morphological transformations (formation of non-simply connected clusters, joining of clusters, geometrical compactness and percolation). In addition, I obtained some preliminary results on (3) an original analytical model for the contact of rough surfaces inspired by Persson’s model; (4) the normal contact between rough surfaces with different fractal dimensions, which in the simplest case results in bi-fractal composite surfaces; (5) permeability of dilated cracks with conformal faces, results are based on the phenomenological equations involving higher order moments; (6) presence of the third body in the contact interfaces which affects both macroscopic friction and permeability, this study has various applications in engineering and geotechnics; (7) effect of surface energy on the roughness characteristics. Finally, (8) I take part in research projects on non-local plasticity which will enable us to study, among other things, size effects in “rough contact”.

Elasto-dynamics frictional sliding. I plan to finalize some preliminary analytical results (based on the analogy with the Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics) on slip destabilization at frictional interfaces subject to non-uniform pressure distributions. The study of opening waves, standing and supersonic propagating slip pulses in finite size systems demonstrated numerically has not yet been published and fully explained analytically, I plan to finalize these findings. In addition, with David S. Kammer (ETH Zürich, Switzerland) we have restarted our collaboration on elasto-dynamic frictional instabilities and slip propagation. We have already accumulated some analytical results on potentially possible supersonic slip pulses propagating in frictional interfaces between a half-space and a rigid plane. We put recently in evidence such pulses for finite size systems and
in the near future we hope to prove analytically and numerically the existence of supersonic pulses in infinite systems.

Contact-based architected materials. During last few years, I have been accumulating ideas and preliminary results on a novel class of contact-based architected materials. This multi-facet project has an ambitious to study static, vibrational and wave-propagation properties of these materials both theoretically and numerically. First prototypes of such materials have been tested numerically and also digitally fabricated. The particularity of such materials lies in the strong coupling of thermomechanical phenomena and in the fact that internal contact areas can be made arbitrary large, which can strongly enhance non-linear effects associated with contact and friction and thus it can endow the resulting materials with novel mechanical and physical properties. I plan to seek for a financial support and invest a large fraction of my time to this project which requires a really multi-disciplinary investigation combining theoretical, numerical and experimental research. In particular, I am interested in (1) the foundation of constitutive models for arbitrary asymmetric and anisotropic materials, (2) the formulation of homogenized models for history-dependent and dissipative behavior of such materials, and (3) in the study of bulk and surface wave propagation in such materials.

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