An apparatus has been developed for the gathering of data from which, through suitable analysis, detailed information on the momentary condition of a sliding interface may be obtained. The information includes the number of the contact spots, the electrical resistivity of the interfacial film, and the flash temperature at the contact spots. The apparatus provides for the continuous simultaneous recording of the coefficient of friction and of the interfacial electrical resistance of a slider in stick-slip motion at constant load and controllable average speed, and/or of the interfacial resistance of a slider at constant speed under controllable load. Loads between 0.3 and 10N and speeds up to 0.15m/s may be selected, in a variety of atmospheres and ambient pressures, as the apparatus is enclosed in a bell jar. It consists of a rotating cylindrical metal hoop inside of which a metal slider moves under the forces of friction and gravity, giving stick-slip behavior full play, and a slider in fixed position subjected to controllable, hydrostatically applied loads. The entire apparatus can be used with a controlled atmosphere or vacuum. The motion of the stick-slip slider, from which the coefficient of friction is inferred, is recorded on one pen of a three-pen strip-chart recorder and the electrical contact resistances between the two sliders and the hoop on the other two pens. The dependence of contact resistance on load, obtainable from the fixed slider without removing the bell jar, permits a determination of the number of contact spots provided the constriction resistance is not negligibly small compared to the film resistance. Deliberate changes of the contact spot temperature can be made by adjusting the current through the slider/hoop interfaces.

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