Friction at nanopillared polymer surfaces beyond Amontons' laws: Stick-slip amplitude coefficient (SSAC) and multiparametric nanotribological properties

M I Ishak, Illia Dobryden, Per Martin Claesson, Wuge H Briscoe*, Bo Su*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
62 Downloads (Pure)


Frictional and nanomechanical properties of nanostructured polymer surfaces are important to their technological and biomedical applications. In this work, poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) surfaces with a periodic distribution of well-defined nanopillars were fabricated through an anodization/embossing process. The apparent surface energy of the nanopillared surfaces was evaluated using the Fowkes acid-base approach, and the surface morphology was characterized using scanning electron microscope (SEM) and atomic force microscope (AFM). The normal and lateral forces between a silica microparticle and these surfaces were quantified using colloidal probe atomic force microscopy (CP-AFM). The friction-load relationship followed Amonton’s first law, and the friction coefficient appeared to scale linearly with the nanopillar height. Furthermore, all the nanopillared surfaces showed pronounced frictional instabilities compared to the smooth sliding friction loop on the flat control. Performing the stick-slip amplitude coefficient (SSAC) analysis, we found a correlation between the frictional instabilities and the nanopillars density, pull-off force and work of adhesion. We have summarised the dependence of the nanotribological properties on such nanopillared surfaces on five relevant parameters, i.e. pull-off force f_p, Amontons’ friction coefficient μ, RMS roughness R_q, stick-slip amplitude friction coefficient SSAC, and work of adhesion between the substrate and water W_adh in a radar chart. Whilst demonstrating the complexity of the frictional behaviour of nanopillared polymer surfaces, our results show that analyses of multiparametric nanotribological properties of nanostructured surfaces should go beyond classic Amontons’ laws, with the SSAC more representative of the frictional properties compared to the friction coefficient.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-424
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Early online date23 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia (MOHE) and Universiti Malaysia Perlis ( UniMAP ) ( SLAB/SLAI2016 Grant) for funding; Dr. Marcus Eales and Dajana Gubala for their help in the assembly of micromanipulator.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Nanopillars
  • Contact mechanics
  • Friction
  • Stick–slip amplitude coefficient (SSAC)
  • Amontons' laws of friction
  • Nanostructured surfaces
  • PET
  • Nanotribology


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