Direct Measurements of Critical Stresses and Cracking in Thin Films of Colloid Dispersions
Useful films can be formed by drying colloidal dispersions, but the negative capillary pressure generated often promotes cracks. Complex lateral flows during drying compromised previous measurements of the pressure required for cracking. Here we report data for the onset of cracking, and the additional cracks that appear at higher pressures, from high-pressure ultrafiltration experiments on homogeneously compressed films. A comparison of the data with expectations from theory confirms that cracking is controlled by elastic recovery, though an energy criterion only provides a lower bound. Our experiments also identify the role of flaws as nucleation sites that initiate cracks.