T. HISAKADO
Depurtment of Precision Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka (Japan)
(Received June 21, 1973; in revised form November 22, 1973)
The analysis of the mechanism of contact between two solids was carried
out considering the distribution of the radii of curvature of asperity peaks. The
analytical results show that the mean radius of curvature of asperity peaks has a
considerable effect on the nature of the deformation of contact asperities, i.e.
whether the contact is plastic or elastic, and more effect on the real area of
contact than the variation of the distribution of the radii of curvature.
The radii of curvature at the asperity peaks and the real area of contact
between two smooth surfaces were measured for comparison with the theoretical
results. The results for isotropic surfaces produced by buffing and sandpaper
agree with the theory; the real area of contact increases with decreasing
surface roughness.
NOMENCLATURE
G(u) = 1”’
”
g(u)du
2. THEORY
S ‘(‘)
G(mcr)
AU
If the compliance U= (~zG ~1~)in Fig. 1 has a value smaller than the maximum
compliance corresponding to the onset of plastic flow of the asperity with the
maximum radius UBmnX =T,~~~,(H~?~E’)~, it is possible that the deformation of some
asperities which began to contact at the separation u=mcf is elastic at separatioil
u=u~. On the other hand, if the compliance U=(ma ~1~)has a value greater
than Upmlx= r,,,,, (Hv~E’)~, the deformation of the asperities which began to contact
in the range of the separation u =~)HJ’*( ido+ Upnla,) is plastic at the separation
u=zt,,. Thus, the value of the real area of contact must be derived for both cases
of U = (fttc  uO)d rmaX(Hti/E’)’ and U = (VW uO) 3 r”,;,,(Hu/E’)~. respectively.
(i) In the case of (rno  uO)< ~,,,(HL’/E’)’
Assuming that the distribution of the radii of curvature is independent
of the separation II. the total real area of contact A is given by
A = A,+A, (51
*“lb
A,= 
I
“ U" * (uuc,)(E'/Ht.)*
rg (r)drdu (6)
‘(Uu”)lE’/Ho)~
A,=  rq(r)drdu (7)
r*q (r)drdu
04 UC>)
(E’/W#
R rq (r) drdu (8)
(ii) In the case of (mrr  uO) 3 ~*~~(~z~~~‘)’
The values of A, and A, in eqn. (5) are given by
‘VIIT
A,=  frrnaXrq(r)drdu
.i uo+r,,,IHa/E')* .I lmin
u,,+r,,,(HoJE't* .(U  It*) (E’IHYP

*i UI, I
8 *m,n
rq(r)drdu (IO)
estimate of the electrical contact resistance3 and the thermal contact resistance4
between two flat surfaces can be expressed as
Hence dividing eqn. (12) by ‘eqn. (3), we obtain the mean radius of contact
points a, as follows:
It Qi 1 rnb
i=i d&4
n,= =:.
fuzr,)f &
n s@%) i #I) i I
_ 42 j .md(u_uo)+ {!g 1
S(%) If0
WI lmin
Hence dividing eqn. (14) by eon. (3), we obtain the mean radius of contact
points a, as follows:
222 ‘l HISAKADO
If the contacting surfaces are both rough, whether or not each asperity
makes contact is important. If the radii of curvature i:ary, the probability 01
contact between the peaks of the asperities is less than that of contact
between the shoulders of the asperities, i.e. contact in which the peaks of
asperities are not in alignment ~rpendicu~ar to the rcfcrence plane. However.
it is evident from the experimental results (see Fig. 12) that the mean radius of curve
ture increases with decreasing surface roughness. When ~he distance between the
peaks in each pair of contact asperities on a reference plane is much smaller
than the radii of curvature of both asperities. the reIationshi~ between
the compliance (displacement) A\v and the radius of contact point lli is given by
Hertz’s equation as follows:
(17)
where
.Il”BX
40(z) = (20)
.i r2maxz/fr2mex~)
%nax
A, =  zq,(z)dzdw (24
(w wo)(E’IHtp
A,,=  (23)
(24)
wo+Z,,,(BV/E’)* Gnar
A, =  zq,(z)dzdw (25)
! W0 fw wof(E’/H#
s
m.7 &na*
A,=  zq,,(z)dzdw
WO+
G,,~x
(WE’)* Gnin
(wwoXE’!Ha)2
zq, (z)dz dw (26)
kli n
wo+=mex
(No/W
w=
%
(27)
where the value of A, in eyn. (27) is given by eqn. (26).
ii 02 04 06 08 10
(REFERENCE PLANE)
zlrmar rlhx
Fig. I. Schematic diagram of rough surface pressed by ideal flat surface.
Fig. 2. Distribution curw of equivalent radii of curvature ;=r, rz;(rl +r2). [q,(z); the probabihtj
density of z].
(28)
Consequently, the mean value of radius of curvature on the profile curve /)m is written
as
4
0 Q2 a4 a6 0.6 LO
CURVE fbl , rr’rmax
f,qmax
Fig. 3. Schematic diagram of radius of curvature p on the profile curve and peak radius of
curvatureof asperityr.
pm = 4rm )
The ~robab~Iit~ density k(p) given by eqns, (30) and (31) is shown in Fig. 4.
ft is clear from this figure that the curves of h(p) are different from those of
4(r)*
criterion for the type of deformation of contacting asperities. i.c. whether the
contact is elastic under all practical loads or plastic. From the results the
dimensionless critical compliance is an important factor for the analysis of contact
mechanism.
If the probability density (l(r) is shown in Fig. 4, the influence of the
dimensionless critical compliance L’,,jo upon the proportion A,/A of the contact
area which involves plastic flow is obtained from eqns. (5) to (8) and eqns. (9) to
(11) and is shown in Fig. 5. These figures show that the value of U,/a in the
range of A,/A< 0.1 are more than 2.9 in Fig. 5(a) and (b). They also show
that the values of U,,/C in the range of A,/A 20.9 are less than 0.09 in
Fig. 5(a) and less than 0. I4 in Fig. 5(b). Thus comparison of Fig. S(a) and (b)
for a given value of the dimensionless critical comphance U,,I(T shows that the
values of A,;‘A are little influenced by the mode of the distribution curve
q(r) but influenced by the values of 2/,/a in the range of 0.09 to 2.9.
1.0 10
4
a 0.6 d 0.6
%
0.4 0.4
0.2 0.2
O I 2 3 ’ 1 2 3
(a) Up/D
lb) Up/P
Fig. 5. Influence of dimensionless critical compliance UP/a on proportion A,,;.4 of contact area
which involves plastic flow: (a) y(r)=(2/r “,,,.)( 1 rrir,,,,:\); (b) q(r)=(2/r “,,,.)(r,:r,,,,,,).
2.4.2. Separation
The calculated values of the separation u obtained from eqns. (8) and (11)
are plotted WSUS the load W in the dimensionless form in Fig. 6. Separation
7 
6 
b5 
=1 
3 
2 
1 r
I I
6
0 ’ 3
lo+ lO' ro2 10“ 10"
1C6
@(ma;PSI~WIqI
Fig. 6. Dimensionless separation U/O as a function of load W. [Assuming q(r) =(fir,:,,)( 1 ri~,~.,~)]
EFFECT OF SURFACE ROUGHNESS ON CONTACTING SURFACES 227
decreases with an increase of UP/o and the rate of decrease to the applied
loads is greater under high loads. Thus this indicates that gasket materials
which have greater values of dimensionless critical compliance are effective in
a sealing device for a given surface roughness of a gasket and a given
applied load6.
kXmaVSl(W/Ij)
Fig. 7. Dimensionless number of contact points n as a function of load W. [Assuming q(r)=
Wr,J~?rmaJl.
2.4.4. Real area of contact
The calculated values of A obtamed for eqns. (5) to (11) are plotted versus
W in dimensionless form in Fig. 8. In the range of {G(  ma)/S}( W/p,,) =
3x1o6 to lo‘, the value of A is proportional to W’,’ for U,jrs=O and
to W”.923 for U,/a=3.0, and the index of W decreases slightly with an increase
of U,/a. Also, the value of A at (G(mo)/S}(W/pr)=104 in U,/a=3.0 is
5.6 times as large as that of A in UP/a=0 and A at (G( mo)/S) ( W/pf)= 10m2
in U,/a=3.0 is 4.1 times as large as that of A in U,/a=O. Thus this shows
that the real area of contact in the elastic contact increases considerably in
comparison with plastic contact.
Fig. 8. Relationship between real area of contact .A and load Pi’ in dimensionless form: q(r)=
(Xr,,;,,)( I r/r” ,,(,).
3. EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE
I I I 1 I
0
I I I I 1
0
lo" 1o5 lo‘ 10" 10Z 10l
iG(mctVS/(W/i$)
(b)
Fig. 9. Mean pressure at the real area of contact p, as a function of load W; (a) q(r)=
(W,,,)(l r/r,,,J; (b) q(r)=(yr,,,)(r/r,,,).
The profile curves of the specimens were recorded with a Taiysurf 4 Surface
Measuring Instrument using a horizontal magnification of 500 and vertical
magnifications of 10000 to 50000. The radii of curvature were obtained from
three ordinates of an asperity, i.e. those of the peak and two points of the
shoulders of the asperity on the profile curve. The maximum heights of the
asperities according to JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard) were the mean values
of 10 profile measurements.
A = ; (L,L,) (33)
C xJ
It is considered that this method is simpler and more accurate than that of
using an etching fluid’.
3.2.2. Real area of contact arose due to the elastic dejbrmation of asperities
The real area of contact for a rough copper surface (CuB2) pressed
against a glass plate, covered with an evaporated Al film of thickness less
than about 300 A was measured optically from the impressions of the contact
asperities on the glass plate. The contact impressions were distinguished by film
transfer to the rough surface or film thinning. Specimen details are summarized
in Table I. The standard deviations of the profile ordinates (r.m.s. roughness) g
were estimated from R,,, using the experimental relation of 0.q R.,;,J4.
TABLE I
1. Specimen
\_
Propertie.\? Upper specimen Lower specimen
\
Material CuB2 SKS3
Young’s modulus
E kg/mm’ 12000 21000
Poisson’s ratio v 0.35 0.3
Finish Sandblasting Grinding
Hardness Hu (O.l)* 100 930
Surface roughness 18.2
I&,., 8.9 0.22
4.4
\ \
Specimen
Upper specimen Lower specimen
Propertie.
\
*’ SB, SP and B refer to the surfaces prepared by sandblasting sandpaper finishing and buffing,
respectively.
Figure 12 shows that the mean radii of curvature of 100~ 120 peaks on
the profile curve P,,, increases with decreasing surface roughness R,,,. The difference
in pm between the copper and the silver surface in the range of 0.1 to 1.4 pR,,,
is attributable to the distribution of the measured values.
 THEORETICAL
0.099 jlR,x
 THEORETICAL
ll
(b)
Fig. 11. Histogram of radii of curvature on a profile curve; (a) Copper surface (CuB2) prepared
by buffing. (b) Silver surface (Ag) prepared by sandpaper finishing.
1o1 1 10
RIMX
Y
Fig. 12. Relationship between mean radius of curvature on a profile curve pm and surfacc
roughness R,,,: B, SP and SB refer to the surfaces prepared by buffing, sandpaper finishing and
sandblasting, respectively.
due to the fact that for a conical asperity pressed by a harder flat surface, the
real area of contact increases with the decrease of the apical angle of the asperity
according to Hill’s equation7, i.e. the greater the surface roughness, the smaller
the apical angles of the asperities become. The mean real pressures ~,,,=p~ ob
tained from the results in Fig. 13 as a function of the applied load are shown
in Fig. 14. It is suggested from this figure that the greater the surface roughness,
the more significantly the mean real pressures are influenced by the applied
loads. This may be due to the effect of workhardening of the contact
asperities and difficulty of estimating the mean real pressure from the indentation
hardness of the softer of the two contacting materials.
EFFECT OF SURFACE ROUGHNESS ON CONTACTING SURFACES 233
6 _ o 18.2 )~Knax 3 $0
a ~.s)~R,,x ,I/<* i
/” r120 
5  //’
l h.‘+j%,x P’ ’ _ _ l _   .
3
li‘ 4  ,/ // 4/ ’
‘6 aElof.l 37  He o _/ =_=Q
.0
2. 3 /f //’ / 80 .a +
o/ ’
// ‘a / 60  /” 0 16.2~RrniX
I/ SB
/a/o/ ’ 40  o B.SpRmri
KuB2)
I
2  9 t * C.$hwX i
20 
I I L 11 11
0 1 2 3 L 5 6 X10’ I I I I I I
0 1234 5 6 7
WI LX Ly kg/cm2 W/LxLy kglmm’
Fig. 13. Ratio of total real are? of plastic contact to apparent contact area A,/L,L, us. apparent
contact pressure W/Lx L, between a sandblasted and a ground surface in contact.
Fig. 14. Mean pressure at real area of contact pn vs. apparent contact pressure W,fL.,L,
between a sandblasted and a ground surface in contact.
EXPERIMENTAL
0 5.5pm.x SB
Q 1.2pRmu
SP
e 0.98~~~ f
$0.099O.lZpRmu B
Fig. 15. Ratio of total area of real contact A ‘to apparent contact area L,L, vs. dimensionless
load ( W/L,L,)/p, between a glass plate, on which Al films were deposited, and a copper surface
(CuB2) in contact: B, SP and SB refer to the surfaces prepared by buffing, sandpaper finishing
and sandblasting, respectively.
The ratios of the real area to the apparent of contact for copper
surfaces (CuB2) pressed against a glass plate on which Al films were deposited
are plotted against W/L,L, in Fig. 15. The calculated values of A/L,L, shown
by a solid line in the figure were obtained from eqn. (5) to (ll), assuming
that q(r)=(Z/r,,,)(l(r/r,,,)), r,+p, and S.7 L,L,. The theoretical results for
UP/a = 10.4,0.20 and 0 correspond to the experimental results for 0.089 0.12&,,,,,
0.88 P&II,, and 1.2~ .5.5pR,,,, respectively. The experimental values tend to be
234 ‘I‘.HISAKALX)
greater than the theoretical values in Fig. 15 as the thickness of the deposited
films on the glass plate has an effect on the real area of contact. i.e. the
smaller the surface roughness, the more significantly A:L,L, is affected by the
thickness of the deposited films. These is also a difference between the theoretical
shape of contact asperities and actual surface asperities, i.e. metal surfaces
prepared by sandpaper and buffing have asperities of various shapes different
from hemispheres. it is evident from Fig. 15 that the real area of contact
increases with an increase of the values of U,,,:G.
5. CONCLUSIONS
The main conclusions derived from theory and experimental evidence are:
(1) The values of A,/A for a given value of UP/a are hardly influenced by the
mode of the distribution curve q(r) but influenced by the values of U,,;io in the
range of 0.09 to 2.9.
(2) Separation decreases with increase of UP/a and the rate of decrease to the
applied load is greater under high loads.
(3) The value of n is proportional to W” 914 for U,,/rr = 0 and to W”.7’6 for
UP/a = 3.0 and the index of W decreases with increase of UP/o.
(4) In the range of (G( rtrcr)/L?i)(W/p,)=3 x 10eh to IO‘, the value of n
is proportional to W’ O for UP/a=0 and to W ’ 923 for U,jo=3.0, and the index
of W decreases slightly with increase of U,,/a. Thus the mean real pressure pm is
equal to the flow pressure pf for UP/a=0 but decreases with increase of U,;Q.
(5) For the sandblasted rough surfaces (CuB2)(8.9 18.2$7,,,) pressed by a
harder ground surface (SKS3)(0.22&,,,,), the mean real pressure pm of the softer
surfaces increases with increase of applied load due to workhardening of the
contact asperities. Therefore it is very difficult to estimate the value of i>nifrom
indentation hardness.
(6) For buffed surfaces (CuB2) (0.0890.12 ,uR,,,, U,,/a= 10.4) pressed by a
harder glass plate on which Al films were deposited. contact is almost elastic
under all practical loads.
REFERENCES
I F. P. Bowden and D. Tabor. The Friction rtrd Lubrication qf Solids. Pt. I, Oxford Univ. Press.
London, 1954.
2 J. A. Greenwood and J. B. P. Williamson. Contact of nominally flat surfaces. Proc. Roy, Sot. (Lontlort .J.
A295 (1966) 300319.
3 T. Tsukizoe and T, Hisakado, On the mechanism of heat transfer between metal surfaces in contact, Pt. 1,
Hear Transf‘rr Jap. Res., 1 (1972) 104l 12.
4 T. Tsukizoe and T. Hisakado, On the mechanism of heat transfer between metal surfaces in
contact. Pt. 2, Hear Truwfer Jap. Res., I (1972) 233 1.
5 T. Hisakado, On the mechanism of contact between solid surfaces, Pt. 5. ‘Frilns. .I@. Sot.
Me&. Engrs., 38 (1972) 26572665.
6 T. Tsukizoe and T. Hisakado, Mechanism of gas leakage through the interface of two metal
surfaces in contact, Technol. Repts. Osaku Univ., 16 (1966) 617630.
7 T. Hisakado, On the mechanism of contact between solid surfaces, Pt. 2, Bull. Jap. Sot. Meek. Enyrs..
12 (1969) 15281536.