It is generally accepted that ice is slippery due to an interfacial water film wetting the ice surface. Despite the current progress in research, the mechanism of low ice friction is not clear, and especially little is known about the behavior of this surface water film under shear and how the sheared interfacial water film influences ice friction. In our work, we investigated the ordering and diffusion coefficient of the interfacial water film and the friction of ice sliding on an atomically smooth solid substrate at the atomic level using molecular dynamics simulations. There are two layers of water molecules at the ice-solid interface that exhibit properties very different from bulk ice. The ice-adjacent water layer is ice-like, and the solid-adjacent water layer is liquid-like. This liquid-like layer behaves in the manner of “confined water,” with high viscosity while maintaining fluidity, leading to the slipperiness of the ice. Furthermore, we found that the interfacial water exhibits shear thinning behavior, which connects the structure of the interfacial water film to the coefficient of friction of the ice surface. We propose a new ice friction mechanism based on shear thinning that is applicable to this interfacial water film structure.

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