J Phys Chem Lett. 2022 Aug 1:7261-7268. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.2c02066. Online ahead of print.
The frictional properties of a uniaxial tensile strained graphene interface are studied using molecular dynamics simulations. A misfit interval statistical method (MISM) is applied to characterize the atomistic misfits at the interface and strain soliton pattern. During sliding along both armchair and zigzag directions, the lateral force depends on the ratio of graphene flake length (L) to strain soliton spacing (Ls) and becomes nearly zero when L is an integer multiple of 3Ls. Furthermore, the strain solitons propagate along the armchair sliding direction dynamically, while fission and fusion are repeatedly evidenced along the zigzag sliding direction. The underlying superlubric mechanism is revealed by a single-atom quasi-static model. The cancellation of lateral force for the contacting atoms exhibits a dynamic balance when sliding along the armchair direction but a quasi-static balance along the zigzag direction. A diagram of flake length with respect to tensile strain (L-ε) is proposed to predict the critical condition for the transition from nonsuperlubricity to superlubricity. Our results provide insights on the design of superlubric devices.