Stochastic rolling of a rigid sphere in weak adhesive contact with a soft substrate

P. S. Goohpattader, S. Mettu, M. K. Chaudhury

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We study the rolling motion of a small solid sphere on a fibrillated rubber substrate in an external field in the presence of a Gaussian noise. From the nature of the drift and the evolution of the displacement fluctuation of the ball, it is evident that the rolling is controlled by a complex non-linear friction at a low velocity and a low noise strength (K), but by a linear kinematic friction at a high velocity and a high noise strength. This transition from a non-linear to a linear friction control of motion can be discerned from another experiment in which the ball is subjected to a periodic asymmetric vibration in conjunction with a random noise. Here, as opposed to that of a fixed external force, the rolling velocity decreases with the strength of the noise suggesting a progressive fluidization of the interface. A state (K) and rate (V) dependent friction model is able to explain both the evolution of the displacement fluctuation as well as the sigmoidal variation of the drift velocity with K. This research sets the stage for studying friction in a new way, in which it is submitted to a noise and then its dynamic response is studied using the tools of statistical mechanics. Although more works would be needed for a fuller realization of the above-stated goal, this approach has the potential to complement direct measurements of friction over several decades of velocities and other state variables. It is striking that the non-Gaussian displacement statistics as observed with the stochastic rolling is similar to that of a colloidal particle undergoing Brownian motion in contact with a soft microtubule.

Original languageBritish English
Article number120
JournalEuropean Physical Journal E
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


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