Growth and relaxation of a ridge on a soft poroelastic substrate
Elastocapillarity describes the deformations of soft materials by surface tensions and is involved in a broad range of applications, from microelectromechanical devices to cell patterning on soft surfaces. Although the vast majority of elastocapillarity experiments are performed on soft gels, because of their tunable mechanical properties, the theoretical interpretation of these data has been so far undertaken solely within the framework of linear elasticity, neglecting the porous nature of gels. We investigate in this work the deformation of a thick poroelastic layer with surface tension subjected to an arbitrary distribution of time-dependent axisymmetric surface forces. Following the derivation of a general analytical solution, we then focus on the specific problem of a liquid drop sitting on a soft poroelastic substrate. We investigate how the deformation and the solvent concentration field evolve in time for various droplet sizes. In particular, we show that the ridge height beneath the triple line grows logarithmically in time as the liquid migrates toward the ridge. We then study the relaxation of the ridge following the removal of the drop and show that the drop leaves long-lived footprints after removal which may affect surface and wetting properties of gel layers and also the motion of living cells on soft materials. Preliminary experiments performed with water droplets on soft PDMS gel layers are in excellent agreement with the theoretical predictions.