Friction and wear become significant at small scale lengths, particularly in MEMS/NEMS. Nanopatterns are regarded as a potential approach to solve these problems. In this paper, we investigated the friction behavior of nanopatterned silicon surfaces with a periodical rectangular groove array in dry and wear-less single-asperity contact at the nanoscale using molecular dynamics simulations. The synchronous and periodic oscillations of the normal load and friction force with the sliding distance were determined at frequencies defined by the nanopattern period. The linear load dependence of the friction force is always observed for the nanopatterned surface and is independent of the nanopattern geometry. We show that the linear friction law is a formal Amontons’ friction law, while the significant linear dependence of the friction force-versus-real contact area and real contact area-versus-normal load captures the general features of the nanoscale friction for the nanopatterned surface. Interestingly, the nanopattern increases the friction force at the nanoscale, and the desired friction reduction is also observed. The enlargement and reduction of the friction critically depended on the nanopattern period rather than the area ratio. Our simulation results reveal that the nanopattern can modulate the friction behavior at the nanoscale from the friction signal to the friction law and to the value of the friction force. Thus, elaborate nanopatterning is an effective strategy for tuning the friction behavior at the nanoscale.
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