Lifted graphene nanoribbons on gold: from smooth sliding to multiple stick-slip regimes
Graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) physisorbed on a Au(111) surface can be picked up, lifted at one end, and made to slide by means of the tip of an atomic-force microscope. The dynamic transition from smooth sliding to multiple stick-slip regimes, the pushing/pulling force asymmetry, the presence of pinning, and its origin are real frictional processes in a nutshell, in need of a theoretical description. To this purpose, we conduct classical simulations of frictional manipulations of a 30 nm-long GNR, one end of which is pushed or pulled horizontally while held at different heights above the Au surface. These simulations allow us to clarify theoretically the emergence of stick-slip originating from the short 1D edges rather than the 2D “bulk”, the role of adhesion, of lifting, and of graphene bending elasticity in determining the GNR sliding friction. The understanding obtained in this simple context is of additional value for more general cases.