Surface tension regularizes the crack singularity of adhesion

Stefan Karpitschka, Leen van Wijngaarden, Jacco H. Snoeijer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


The elastic and adhesive properties of a solid surface can be quantified by indenting it with a rigid sphere. Indentation tests are classically described by the JKR-law when the solid is very stiff, while recent work highlights the importance of surface tension for exceedingly soft materials. Here we show that surface tension plays a crucial role even in stiff solids: Young's wetting angle emerges as a boundary condition and this regularizes the crack-like singularity at the edge of adhesive contacts. We find that the edge region exhibits a universal, self-similar structure that emerges from the balance of surface tension and elasticity. The similarity theory is solved analytically and provides a complete description of adhesive contacts, by which we reconcile global adhesion laws and local contact mechanics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4463-4471
Number of pages9
JournalSoft matter
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

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