Self-amplification of solid friction in interleaved assemblies

Self-amplification of solid friction in interleaved assemblies
H . Alarcon, T. Salez, C. Poulard, J.-F. Bloch, E. Raphaël, K. Dalnoki-Veress, and F. Restagno

Physical Review Letters, 116 015502 (2016) [PHYSICS, PRL EDITORS’ SUGGESTION, ON N’EST PAS QUE DES COBAYES, LE MONDE, FRANCE INTER, ESPGG, PUBLICO, LE DAUPHINE, L’EXPRESS, POUR LA SCIENCE, SCIENCE&VIE, SCIENCE&VIE JUNIOR, CNRS PRESS RELEASE, ESPCI, PARIS-SACLAY, MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW, IMPROBABLE RESEARCH 1, IMPROBABLE RESEARCH 2, PHYS.ORG, THE CONVERSATION, GEEK, GLOWBI, CYBER-ACTU, LE TEMPS, FOCUSUR, SIXACTUALITES, LE ZAPPING DU PAF, ACTU.ORANGE, TECHNO-SCIENCE, FUTURA-SCIENCES, INP GRENOBLE, McMASTER UNIV., SCIENCE 2.0, GIZMODO, SCIENCE DAILY, NOTICIAS AO MINUTO, WELT DER PHYSICS, ALPHA GALILEO, CIENCIA HOJE]

It is nearly impossible to separate two interleaved phone books when held by their spines. A full understanding of this astonishing demonstration of solid friction in complex assemblies remains elusive. In this Letter, we report on experiments with controlled booklets and show that the force required increases sharply with the number of sheets. A model captures the effect of the number of sheets, their thickness, and the overlapping distance. Furthermore, the data collapse onto a self-similar master curve with one dimensionless amplification parameter. In addition to solving a long-standing familiar enigma, this model system provides a framework with which one can accurately measure friction forces and coefficients at low loads, and that has relevance to complex assemblies from the macro- to the nanoscale.

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