Graphene is well known as a solid lubricant for nanoscale devices and is generally used to decrease friction between flat surfaces. In this work, we investigate its performance as a lubricant for rough surfaces. To this end, the problem of a silicon tip sliding on a rough copper single crystal, bare or covered by a graphene layer, is addressed through molecular dynamics simulations. To simplify the analysis, the copper crystal is taken to be quasi-three dimensional, so that the roughness profile is constant along the short periodic dimension. Results show markedly different deformation mechanisms in copper, depending on whether the rough surface is bare, covered with a stretched graphene layer, or with a wrinkled graphene layer. The wrinkled layer appears to be the best solution to reduce friction.
- Rough surface