The structure of slip-pulses and supershear ruptures driving slip in bimaterial friction

Hadar Shlomai, Jay Fineberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The most general frictional motion in nature involves bimaterial interfaces, when contacting bodies possess different elastic properties. Frictional motion occurs when the contacts composing the interface separating these bodies detach via propagating rupture fronts. Coupling between slip and normal stress variations is unique to bimaterial interfaces. Here we use high speed simultaneous measurements of slip velocities, real contact area and stresses to explicitly reveal this bimaterial coupling and its role in determining different classes of rupture modes and their structures. We directly observe slip-pulses, highly localized slip accompanied by large local reduction of the normal stress near the rupture tip. These pulses propagate in the direction of motion of the softer material at a selected (maximal) velocity and continuously evolve while propagating. In the opposite direction bimaterial coupling favors crack-like 'supershear' fronts. The robustness of these structures shows the importance of bimaterial coupling to frictional motion and modes of frictional dissipation.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number11787
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 9 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge support from the James S. McDonnell Fund (Grant no. 220020221), the European Research Council (Grant no. 267256) and the Israel Science Foundation (Grants 76/11 and 1523/15).


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