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Issue 22, 2018
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The mechanical equilibrium of soft solids with surface elasticity

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Abstract

Recent experiments have shown that surface stresses in soft materials can have a significant strain-dependence. Here we explore the implications of this surface elasticity to show how, and when, we expect it to arise. We develop the appropriate boundary condition, showing that it simplifies significantly in certain cases. We show that surface elasticity's main role is to stiffen a solid surface's response to in-plane tractions, in particular at length-scales smaller than a characteristic elastocapillary length. We also investigate how surface elasticity affects the Green's-function problem of a line force on a flat, incompressible, linear-elastic substrate. There are significant changes to this solution, especially in that the well-known displacement singularity is regularised. This raises interesting implications for soft phenomena like wetting contact lines, adhesion and friction. Finally, we discuss open questions, future directions, and close ties with existing fields of research.

Graphical abstract: The mechanical equilibrium of soft solids with surface elasticity

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Publication details

The article was received on 23 Jan 2018, accepted on 20 May 2018 and first published on 21 May 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8SM00166A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2018,14, 4569-4576
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    The mechanical equilibrium of soft solids with surface elasticity

    R. W. Style and Q. Xu, Soft Matter, 2018, 14, 4569
    DOI: 10.1039/C8SM00166A

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