Elastocapillary deformation of thin elastic ribbons in 2D foam columns†
The ability of liquid interfaces to shape slender elastic structures provides powerful strategies to control the architecture of mechanical self assemblies. However, elastocapillarity-driven intelligent design remains unexplored in more complex architected liquids – such as foams. Here we propose a model system which combines an assembly of bubbles and a slender elastic structure. Arrangements of soap bubbles in confined environments form well-defined periodic structures, dictated by Plateau's laws. We consider a 2D foam column formed in a container with square cross-section in which we introduce an elastomer ribbon, leading to architected structures whose geometry is guided by a competition between elasticity and capillarity. In this system, we quantify both experimentally and theoretically the equilibrium shapes, using X-ray micro-tomography and energy minimisation techniques. Beyond the understanding of the amplitude of the wavy elastic ribbon deformation, we provide a detailed analysis of the profile of the ribbon, and show that such a setup can be used to grant a shape to a UV-curable composite slender structure, as a foam-forming technique suitable to miniaturisation. In more general terms, this work provides a stepping stone towards an improved understanding of the interactions between liquid foams and slender structures.