According to continuum mechanics theory, the metallic junctions formed between the contact asperities on two opposing surfaces increase in size until gross sliding occurs. Our atomistic simulations reveal that the onset of lateral junction growth is caused by the slips of the asperity atoms. Furthermore, it is shown that the presence of an adsorbed layer on the asperity surface delays the onset of lateral junction growth. The present simulation results are found to be consistent with the experimental results presented in the literature and provide a valuable interpretation of the lateral junction growth phenomenon from a nanoscale perspective.
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