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Liquid lubricants play an important role in contact processes; for example, they reduce friction and cool the contact zone. To gain better understanding of the influence of lubrication on the nanoscale, both dry and lubricated scratching processes in a model system are compared in the present work using molecular dynamics simulations. The entire range between total dewetting and total wetting is investigated by tuning the solid–fluid interaction energy. The investigated scratching process consists of three sequential movements: A cylindrical indenter penetrates an initially flat substrate, then scratches in the lateral direction, and is finally retracted out of the contact with the substrate. The indenter is fully submersed in the fluid in the lubricated cases. The substrate, the indenter, and the fluid are described by suitably parametrized Lennard–Jones model potentials. The presence of the lubricant is found to have a significant influence on the friction and on the energy balance of the process. The thermodynamic properties of the lubricant are evaluated in detail. A correlation of the simulation results for the profiles of the temperature, density, and pressure of the fluid in the vicinity of the chip is developed. The work done by the indenter is found to mainly dissipate and thereby heat up the substrate and eventually the fluid. Only a minor part of the work causes plastic deformation of the substrate.
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