Mechanics, Department System Dynamics and Friction Physics


Contact Mechanics

Contact Mechanics is a fundamental discipline of the engineering sciences. Every system - technical device or living being - is composed of connected parts, which makes Contact Mechanics relevant for countless physical, technical, and medical applications. In mechanical engineering alone the scope is immense, examples include bearings, gears, clutches, wheels, brakes and many more. In recent years, the area of Contact Mechanics has conquered new fields of applications which are at the forefront of global development trends in technology and society. Fields of micro-technology, biology and medicine have been particularly important additions. Further applications are the adhesive strength of bonded joints, turbine blade connections in jet engines, extraction methods of broken implants, advanced methods for material testing, and friction damping of aerospace structures.

An introduction to the vast field of Contact Mechanics can be found in the book “Contact Mechanics and Friction - Physical Principles and Applications”. In addition to contact mechanics, the book addresses adhesion, capillary forces, friction, lubrication and wear, providing the reader with a deep understanding of tribology.

V.L. Popov, Contact Mechanics and Friction. Physical Principles and Applications, Springer, 2017.

Research activities of the Department of System Dynamics and Friction Physics in the field of Contact Mechanics range from the rigorous analytical treatment of contacts to the development and application of highly advanced numerical simulation methods.

A collection of analytical solutions of axially-symmetric contacts can be found in the “Handbook of contact mechanics”. The book encompasses normal, tangential and torsional contacts; elastic, viscoelastic, and gradient media; contacts with non-compact area, and adhesive contacts.

OPEN ACCESS: V.L. Popov, M. Heß, E. Willert. Handbook of Contact Mechanics. Exact Solutions of Axisymmetric Contact Problems, Springer, 2019.

From a numerical perspective, a particular focus of the department is on the FFT-based Boundary Element Method. This simple and efficient method is currently the fastest numerical technique for the simulation of rough surfaces and adhesive contacts. Two exemplary papers can be found below.

Normal contact stiffness of elastic solids with fractal rough surfaces

R. Pohrt, V. L. Popov

Physical Review Letters, vol. 108, no. 10, pp. 104301, 2012

Strength of adhesive contacts: Influence of contact geometry and material gradients

V. L. Popov, R. Pohrt, Q. Li

Friction, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 308-325, 2017

NEW: Spanish Edition of "Contact Mechanics and Friction"

Popov, Valentin L., Martín-Martínez, José Miguel (ed.), Moreno Flores, Susana (trad.)

Principios y aplicaciones de la mecánica de contacto en tribología, fricción y adherencia.

Publicacions de la Universitat d’Alacant, 2020, 434 p


The key to address modern challenges in Contact Mechanics are highly advanced computational methods. Future projects and visions of the department encompass the coupling of rapid numerical techniques to enable even faster simulations, as well as the development of entirely new techniques utilizing recent advances in parallel computing and computer graphics, to enable even more versatile simulation techniques with a large range of application.