Significance of elastic coupling for stresses and leakage in frictional contacts

We study how the commonly neglected coupling of normal and in-plane elastic response affects tribological properties when Hertzian or randomly rough indenters slide past an elastic body. Compressibility-induced coupling is found to substantially increase maximum tensile stresses, which cause materials to fail, and to decrease friction such that Amontons’ law is violated macroscopically even when it holds microscopically. Confinement-induced coupling increases friction and enlarges domains of high tension. Moreover, both types of coupling affect the gap topography and thereby leakage. Thus, coupling can be much more than a minor perturbation of a mechanical contact.