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Surface Stresses and a Force Balance at a Contact Line

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journal contribution
posted on 30.05.2018, 00:00 by Heyi Liang, Zhen Cao, Zilu Wang, Andrey V. Dobrynin
Results of the coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations are used to show that the force balance analysis at the triple-phase contact line formed at an elastic substrate has to include a quartet of forces: three surface tensions (surface free energies) and an elastic force per unit length. In the case of the contact line formed by a droplet on an elastic substrate an elastic force is due to substrate deformation generated by formation of the wetting ridge. The magnitude of this force fel is proportional to the product of the ridge height h and substrate shear modulus G. Similar elastic line force should be included in the force analysis at the triple-phase contact line of a solid particle in contact with an elastic substrate. For this contact problem elastic force obtained from contact angles and surface tensions is a sum of the elastic forces acting from the side of a solid particle and an elastic substrate. By considering only three line forces acting at the triple-phase contact line, one implicitly accounts the bulk stress contribution as a part of the resultant surface stresses. This “contamination” of the surface properties by a bulk contribution could lead to unphysically large values of the surface stresses in soft materials.