Effects of geometric confinement on the adhesive debonding of soft elastic solids
The effect of increasing confinement on soft elastic gel layers has been investigated and a means of analyzing the behavior of such systems has been developed. A probe tack test was used to study the behavior of thin elastic layers during interfacial debonding from a cylindrical glass indenter. For this gel-indenter system, confinement is defined as the ratio of a0, the radius of the indenter, to h, the thickness of the elastic layer. In order to investigate geometric effects, the adhesion energy of the gel was kept constant while the thickness and modulus of the gels were varied. A fracture mechanics approach, based on the compliance of the layer, has been employed in analyzing the experimental data. It is shown that a fracture mechanics analysis is appropriate for these systems, allowing quantitative results to be obtained, despite very irregular contacts. It has also been shown that the interfacial instabilities observed during debonding maximize the compliance of the elastic layer. Additionally, four dimensionless parameters that dictate the behavior of confined systems have been defined, offering a general guide to understanding and characterizing the mechanical behavior of thin elastic layers.