Distinguishing deformation mechanisms in elastocapillary experiments
Soft materials are known to deform due to a variety of mechanisms, including capillarity, buoyancy, and swelling. In this paper, we present experiments on polyvinylsiloxane gel threads partially-immersed in three liquids with different solubility, wettability, and swellability. Our results demonstrate that deformations due to capillarity, buoyancy, and swelling can be of similar magnitude as such threads come to static equilibrium. To account for all three effects being present in a single system, we derive a model capable of explaining the observed data and use it to determine the force law at the three-phase contact line. The results show that the measured forces are consistent with the expected Young–Dupré equation, and do not require the inclusion of a tangential contact line force.