On the validity of the method of reduction of dimensionality: Area of contact, average interfacial separation and contact stiffness
It has recently been suggested that many contact mechanics problems between solids can be accurately studied by mapping the problem on an effective one-dimensional (1D) elastic foundation model. Using this 1D mapping, we calculate the contact area and the average interfacial separation between elastic solids with nominally flat but randomly rough surfaces. We show, by comparison to exact numerical results, that the 1D mapping method fails even qualitatively. We also calculate the normal interfacial stiffness K and compare it with the result of an analytic study. We attribute the failure of the elastic foundation model to the incorrect treatment of the long-range elastic coupling between the asperity contact regions.