Research ArticlePHYSICS

Single-asperity sliding friction across the superconducting phase transition

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Science Advances  20 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 12, eaay0165
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay0165


In sliding friction, different energy dissipation channels have been proposed, including phonon and electron systems, plastic deformation, and crack formation. However, how energy is coupled into these channels is debated, and especially, the relevance of electronic dissipation remains elusive. Here, we present friction experiments of a single-asperity sliding on a high-Tc superconductor from 40 to 300 kelvin. Overall, friction decreases with temperature as generally expected for nanoscale energy dissipation. However, we also find a large peak around Tc. We model these results by a superposition of phononic and electronic friction, where the electronic energy dissipation vanishes below Tc. In particular, we find that the electronic friction constitutes a constant offset above Tc, which vanishes below Tc with a power law in agreement with Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer theory. While current point contact friction models usually neglect such friction contributions, our study shows that electronic and phononic friction contributions can be of equal size.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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