Frictional sliding without geometrical reflection symmetry

Michael Aldam, Yohai Bar-Sinai, Ilya Svetlizky, Efim A. Brener, Jay Fineberg, Eran Bouchbinder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dynamics of frictional interfaces plays an important role in many physical systems spanning a broad range of scales. It is well known that frictional interfaces separating two dissimilar materials couple interfacial slip and normal stress variations, a coupling that has major implications on their stability, failure mechanism, and rupture directionality. In contrast, it is traditionally assumed that interfaces separating identical materials do not feature such a coupling because of symmetry considerations. We show, combining theory and experiments, that interfaces that separate bodies made of macroscopically identical materials but lack geometrical reflection symmetry generically feature such a coupling. We discuss two applications of this novel feature. First, we show that it accounts for a distinct, and previously unexplained, experimentally observed weakening effect in frictional cracks. Second, we demonstrate that it can destabilize frictional sliding, which is otherwise stable. The emerging framework is expected to find applications in a broad range of systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number041023
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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