Dynamic instabilities of frictional sliding at a bimaterial interface

Efim A. Brener, Marc Weikamp, Robert Spatschek, Yohai Bar-Sinai, Eran Bouchbinder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the dynamic stability of bodies in frictional contact steadily sliding one over the other is of basic interest in various disciplines such as physics, solid mechanics, materials science and geophysics. Here we report on a two-dimensional linear stability analysis of a deformable solid of a finite height H, steadily sliding on top of a rigid solid within a generic rate-and-state friction type constitutive framework, fully accounting for elastodynamic effects. We derive the linear stability spectrum, quantifying the interplay between stabilization related to the frictional constitutive law and destabilization related both to the elastodynamic bi-material coupling between normal stress variations and interfacial slip, and to finite size effects. The stabilizing effects related to the frictional constitutive law include velocity-strengthening friction (i.e. an increase in frictional resistance with increasing slip velocity, both instantaneous and under steady-state conditions) and a regularized response to normal stress variations. We first consider the small wave-number k limit and demonstrate that homogeneous sliding in this case is universally unstable, independent of the details of the friction law. This universal instability is mediated by propagating waveguide-like modes, whose fastest growing mode is characterized by a wave-number satisfying kH∼O(1) and by a growth rate that scales with H-1. We then consider the limit kH→∞ and derive the stability phase diagram in this case. We show that the dominant instability mode travels at nearly the dilatational wave-speed in the opposite direction to the sliding direction. In a certain parameter range this instability is manifested through unstable modes at all wave-numbers, yet the frictional response is shown to be mathematically well-posed. Instability modes which travel at nearly the shear wave-speed in the sliding direction also exist in some range of physical parameters. Previous results obtained in the quasi-static regime appear relevant only within a narrow region of the parameter space. Finally, we show that a finite-time regularized response to normal stress variations, within the framework of generalized rate-and-state friction models, tends to promote stability. The relevance of our results to the rupture of bi-material interfaces is briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-173
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Bi-material interfaces
  • Dynamics instabilities
  • Elastodynamics
  • Friction
  • Rupture

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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