Rheological behavior in concentrated contacts has been studied extensively. In certain conditions such as a rough concentrated contact or sliding of nominally flat surfaces, films may be of molecular (nanometer) scale. The question arises as to whether the application of any viscous fluid model is appropriate. In this study, elastohydrodynamic lubrication analysis is performed on three candidate rheological models: (1) the classical case of viscosity variation with pressure, (2) an isoviscous model which idealizes porous layers on the solid surfaces representing the molecular microstructure, and (3) an isoviscous model which includes van der Waals and solvation surface forces. The latter two models predict behavior similar to classical behavior. The study is not sufficiently sensitive to determine which model best predicts experimental results, but some credence must be given to the latter two because experimental evidence suggests that Reynolds’ equation is not valid for molecularly thin films.

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