Multiscale imaging of wear tracks in ice skate friction

Markus Ovaska, Ari J. Tuononen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Skating on ice is possible due to the low friction coefficient between ice and steel, which is thought to result from a lubricating water film formed through frictional melting. Although the phenomenon has been studied through various models and experiments, few studies report direct observations of the wear tracks on the ice surface. Here we use white light interferometry to accurately measure the surface topography on multiple length scales immediately after an ice skate slides over it. We find signs of surface melting only on short length scales as refrozen meltwater droplets, but no evidence of a global melt layer. Repeatedly sweeping over the same ice track results in an increasing friction coefficient, which we link to an increase in the contact area. We also consider the effect that the surface profile of the ice skate blade has on friction by using two different blades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-286
Number of pages7
JournalTribology International
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Ice friction
  • Surface topography
  • Wear
  • White light interferometry


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