Spatial pressure variations in synthetic lubricants contained in a static high-pressure diamond anvil cell (DAC), as well as in a loaded model bearing contact device, have been measured using the frequency shift of the lubricant’s Raman vibrational modes. Long-lived pressure fluctuations of ±0.5 GPa, with a relaxation time of several days, are observed m the static high pressure systems at an average pressure of 2.5 GPa. Evidence for rapidly varying pressure fluctuations in a concentrated contact is inferred from the increase in lubricant Raman linewidths. These results raise questions about key assumptions made in modeling EHD contacts. It is suggested that the present results are closely linked to recent observations of shear localization made by Winer and Bair.

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