In chemical mechanical polishing (CMP), a rigid wafer is forced on a rough elastomeric polishing pad, while a slurry containing abrasive particles flows through the interface. One of the important factors that influence the material removal rate in CMP is the magnitude of contact force transmitted to the abrasive particles trapped at the contact interface. The total push-down force is distributed to the direct contact between the wafer and the pad, and to the three-body contact between the wafer, the pad, and the abrasive particles. The presence of the abrasive particles alters the asperity contact, which otherwise can be described by Hertz contact relationships. In this study, the effect of the interfacial particles on the single asperity contact is investigated. An approach used by Greenwood and Tripp (1967, “The Elastic Contact of Rough Spheres
,” ASME J. Appl. Mech., 34, pp. 153–160) to study the contact of rough spheres is utilized since the presence of the particles provides a rough character to the contact. The results show that the contact behavior becomes non-Hertzian with decreasing contact force and increasing elastic modulus, particle size, and particle concentration. The role of the interfacial particles is to spread the contact over a larger area while lowering the maximum contact pressure at the center of contact predicted by Hertz contact. The conditions required to transfer the contact force on the particles effectively are also described.