Transient sliding of thin hydrogel films: the role of poroelasticity†
We report on the transient frictional response of contacts between a rigid spherical glass probe and a micrometer-thick poly(dimethylacrylamide) hydrogel film grafted onto a glass substrate when a lateral relative motion is applied to the contact initially at rest. From dedicated experiments with in situ contact visualization, both the friction force and the contact size are observed to vary well beyond the occurrence of a full sliding condition at the contact interface. Depending on the imposed velocity and on the static contact time before the motion is initiated, either an overshoot or an undershoot in the friction force is observed. These observations are rationalized by considering that the transient is predominantly driven by the flow of water within the stressed hydrogel networks. From the development of a poroelastic contact model using a thin film approximation, we provide a theoretical description of the main features of the transient. We especially justify the experimental observation that the relaxation of friction force Ft(t) toward steady state is uniquely dictated by the time-dependence of the contact radius a(t), independently on the sliding velocity and on the applied normal load.