Nonlinear evolution of thin liquid films dewetting near soft elastomeric layers

Omar K. Matar, Vasileios Gkanis, Satish Kumar

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The nonlinear evolution of thin liquid films dewetting near soft elastomeric layers is examined in this work. Evolution equations are derived by applying the lubrication approximation and assuming that van der Waals forces in the liquid cause the dewetting and that the solid can be described as a linear viscoelastic material. Two cases are examined: (i) a liquid layer resting on an elastomer bounded from below by a rigid substrate, and (ii) an elastomer overlying a thin liquid film bounded from below by a rigid substrate. Linear stability analysis is carried out to obtain asymptotic relations which are then compared against solutions of the full characteristic equations. In the liquid-on-solid case, numerical solutions of the evolution equations show that van der Waals forces cause thinning of the liquid film and thickening of the elastomeric solid beneath film depressions. Inclusion of a short-range repulsive force suggests that regular patterns may form in which ridges of fluid rest on depressions in the solid. In the solid-on-liquid case, the van der Waals forces cause the solid layer to break up before the liquid film can dewet. The results presented here support the idea that the dewetting of thin liquid films might be exploited to create topographically patterned surfaces on soft polymeric solids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-332
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
O.K.M. thanks EPSRC for their support through Grant GR/S35660/01. S.K. thanks the Donors of the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for partial support of this research. S.K. also thanks the Shell Oil Company Foundation for support through its Faculty Career Initiation Funds program, and 3M for a Nontenured Faculty Award.


  • Dewetting
  • Elastomer
  • Gel
  • Lubrication
  • Rupture
  • Thin films
  • Viscoelastic


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