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Issue 19, 2016
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Pseudo-Casimir stresses and elasticity of a confined elastomer film

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Investigations of the elastic behavior of bulk elastomers have traditionally proceeded on the basis of classical rubber elasticity, which regards chains as thermally fluctuating but disregards the thermal fluctuations of the cross-links. Herein, we consider an incompressible and flat elastomer film of an axisymmetric shape confined between two large hard co-planar substrates, with the axis of the film perpendicular to the substrates. We address the impact that thermal fluctuations of the cross-links have on the free energy of elastic deformation of the system, subject to the requirement that the fluctuating elastomer cannot detach from the substrates. We examine the behavior of the deformation free energy for one case where a rigid pinning boundary condition is applied to a class of elastic fluctuations at the confining surfaces, and another case where the same elastic fluctuations are subjected to soft “gluing” potentials. We find that there can be significant departures (both quantitative and qualitative) from the prediction of classical rubber elasticity theory when elastic fluctuations are included. Finally, we compare the character of the attractive part of the elastic fluctuation-induced, or pseudo-Casimir, stress with the standard thermal Casimir stress in confined but non-elastomeric systems, finding the same power law decay behavior when a rigid pinning boundary condition is applied; for the case of the gluing potential, we find that the leading order correction to the attractive part of the fluctuation stress decays inversely with the inter-substrate separation.

Graphical abstract: Pseudo-Casimir stresses and elasticity of a confined elastomer film

  • This article is part of the themed collection: Polymers
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Publication details

The article was received on 20 Jan 2016, accepted on 01 Apr 2016 and first published on 01 Apr 2016

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6SM00160B
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Citation: Soft Matter, 2016,12, 4384-4396

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    Pseudo-Casimir stresses and elasticity of a confined elastomer film

    B. Lu, A. Naji and R. Podgornik, Soft Matter, 2016, 12, 4384
    DOI: 10.1039/C6SM00160B

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