In the framework of Langevin dynamics, we demonstrate clear evidence of the peculiar quantized sliding state, previously found in a simple one-dimensional boundary lubricated model [A. Vanossi et al, Phys. Rev. Lett.97, 056101 (2006)], for a substantially less idealized two-dimensional description of a confined multilayer solid lubricant under shear. This dynamical state, marked by a nontrivial “quantized” ratio of the averaged lubricant center-of-mass velocity to the externally imposed sliding speed, is recovered, and shown to be robust against the effects of thermal fluctuations, quenched disorder in the confining substrates, and over a wide range of loading forces. The lubricant softness, setting the width of the propagating solitonic structures, is found to play a major role in promoting in-registry commensurate regions beneficial to this quantized sliding. By evaluating the force instantaneously exerted on the top plate, we find that this quantized sliding represents a dynamical “pinned” state, characterized by significantly low values of the kinetic friction. While the quantized sliding occurs due to solitons being driven gently, the transition to ordinary unpinned sliding regimes can involve lubricant melting due to large shear-induced Joule heating, for example at large speed.

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