Three key parameters describing contacts with adhesion were identified in previous investigations. Here a series of finite element simulations of a single load/unload cycle of a contact are performed to study the impact of each of these parameters. The results show that one parameter (S) is most important in determining the separation mode, i.e. brittle or ductile separation. Smaller S leads to brittle separation while larger S gives ductile separation. The transition between the two separation modes occurs at about S = 1.2 which corresponds to the theoretical stress being somewhat greater than the hardness.

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