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01-10-2016 | Original Paper | Issue 1/2016

Tribology Letters 1/2016

Real-Contact Area Between an Elastomer and a Flat Plane Observed by Surface Plasmon Resonance: Optical Model Calculations

Journal:
Tribology Letters > Issue 1/2016
Authors:
Satoru Maegawa, Hiroshige Matsuoka, Shigehisa Fukui, Fumihiro Itoigawa, Takashi Nakamura

Abstract

This study presents a novel method for high-sensitivity measurement of the area of the real contact between an elastomer surface and a rigid flat plane, using the surface plasmon resonance (SPR) technique in the Kretschmann configuration. Through numerical calculations, the sensitivity of the SPR method for determining the real-contact area is discussed and compared to other typical optical techniques, such as total internal reflection and multiple beam optical interference. The wavelength dependence of the optical reflectance is simulated, as well as its change with the elastomer-plane gap thickness and the optical properties of the gap material. Non-transparent elastomers are also studied. Consequently, it was found that the SPR method has the highest sensitivity for the measurement of real-contact area; it can detect, for example, an ultra-thin air gap (or water gap) formed between the contacting surfaces from the measurement of the intensity of reflected light from the contact region.

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