Superlubric to stick-slip sliding of incommensurate graphene flakes on graphite
We calculate the friction of fully mobile graphene flakes sliding on graphite. For incommensurately stacked flakes, we find a sudden and reversible increase in friction with load, in agreement with experimental observations. The transition from smooth sliding to stick-slip and the corresponding increase in friction is neither due to rotations to commensurate contact nor to dislocations but to a pinning caused by vertical distortions of edge atoms also when they are saturated by hydrogen. This behavior should apply to all layered materials with strong in-plane bonding.