Convenient formulas for modeling three-dimensional thermo-mechanical asperity contacts

G. Liu, Q. Wang*, Y. Ao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Frictional heating is a common phenomenon related to friction and rubbing. Modeling the rough-surface contact in a tribological process that involves frictional heating and thermoelastic deformations requires an interactive thermal-mechanical simulation process through a large amount of numerical calculation. A three-dimensional interactive thermal-mechanical asperity contact model has been developed. The model takes into account steady-state heat transfer, asperity distortion due to thermal and elastic deformations, and material yield by means of the elastic-perfectly plastic assumption. The finite-element method (FEM), discrete convolution and fast Fourier transform (DC-FFT), and conjugate gradient method (CGM) are employed as the solution methods. This model is applied to analyze a large number of numerically generated surfaces of a wide range of statistical properties. A group of semi-empirical formulas correlating the maximum asperity flash temperature, contact pressure, real contact area, and the normal approach between the contacting surfaces is derived as a simplified version of the contact model for convenience of use in tribological simulations. These formulas are compared with the results obtained from numerical analyses with satisfactory accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-423
Number of pages13
JournalTribology International
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2002


  • Interactive modeling
  • Semi-empirical equations
  • Thermal-mechanical asperity contact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

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