Analytical analysis and optimisation of the Rayleigh step slider bearing

In tribology, the Rayleigh step is known as a bearing with the highest load capacity amongst all other possible bearing geometries. In classical resources on tribology, it is also shown that there is an optimum geometry for the Rayleigh step providing the highest load capacity. However, the analyses are confined to a special case where the effect of hydrostatic pressure is neglected. Furthermore, the possible optimum parameters in terms of the friction force and/or friction coefficient as well as the lubricant flow rate have not been discussed. In this study, the Rayleigh step is comprehensively analysed including the effect of variations of pressure at the boundaries on the optimum parameters. In addition, the bearing is also optimised considering lubricant flow rate, friction force and friction coefficient. It is shown that the optimum bearing parameters are strictly dependent on the variations of the pressure at the boundaries. It is also verified that the optimum point(s) in terms of load capacity are not necessarily equal to the optimum point(s) considering friction coefficient and/or lubricant flow rate even though if there is no pressure difference between bearing endings.