Peeling an elastic film from a soft viscoelastic adhesive: experiments and scaling laws
The functionality of adhesives relies on their response under the application of a load. Yet, it has remained a challenge to quantitatively relate the macroscopic dynamics of peeling to the dissipative processes inside the adhesive layer. Here we investigate the peeling of a reversible adhesive made of a polymer gel, measuring the relationship between the peeling force, the peeling velocity, and the geometry of the interface at small-scale. Experiments are compared to a theory based on the linear viscoelastic response of the adhesive, augmented with an elastocapillary regularization approach. This theory, fully quantitative in the limit of small surface deformations, demonstrates the emergence of a “wetting” angle at the contact line and exhibits scaling laws for peeling which are in good agreement with the experimental results. Our findings provide a new strategy for design of reversible adhesives, by quantitatively combining wetting, geometry and dissipation.